"The End of Leadership" by Barbara Kellerman is one of the best leadership books, I've read for a long time.
She describes why leadership is so hard to exercise today due to major shifts in society.
She raises the important question: Why has the leadership industry, for all its apparent successes, failed on so many levels? Why do incompetence and intemperance continue rampant? Why are ethics so elusive? Why is teaching leading full of “flaws”? Why has it proved so hard to build a body of knowledge? Why are our leaders so widely disdained—and why is our trust in leaders of every stripe at a leaden low?
Barbara has strong opinions about the leadership industry. She doesn't believe that becomming a leader is a quick fix that can be learned from a seven-step guide written by former CEOs or short and expensive leadership courses.
Instead she refers to both Plato and Confucius' wise words about what shapes a great man or women. And that learning is a lifelong exercise where you need to expose yourself to other things in life that aren't business related.
Here's what she writes about Plato and Confucius:
Confucius was himself an inveterate teacher. When one of his students, a lord, asked, “What should I do in order to make the people respectful, loyal, and zealous?” Confucius replied, “Approach them with dignity and they will be respectful. Be yourself a good son and a kind father, and they will be loyal. Raise the good and train the incompetent, and they will be zealous.”
"How, according to Plato, was this rare bird to be tutored? His education would be, in effect, lifelong, and steeped deep in a range of subjects, most not in any obvious way connected to leadership as we conceive of it, including literature, music, elementary and advanced mathematics, philosophy and metaphysics, physical exercise, and experience in both the civil service and military."
I HIGHLY recommend reading this book!
I interviewed Barbara the other day and an article about her book will be published this summer. Will post a link once it's online.
This article is a book review from LA Times.
Via Kenneth Mikkelsen