September 27

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What you could learn from ‘Leadership BS’ by Jerry Pfeffer (2015, 220 pages)

While leadership is difficult to define (see here), good leadership is hard to miss.  Like beauty, good leadership is subjective, depending as much on the observer and context, as much as it depends on the leader.

In the book, Jeffrey takes on the five pillars of current leadership: modesty, authenticity, telling the truth, trust and selflessness.  By using research, anecdote and widely known examples, Jerry systematics demonstrates that these traits are rare in leaders and that these traits can be counterproductive, both for leaders and for their organisations.

Jeffrey’s offers six pieces of advice to help leaders deal with the vast disparity between what recent leadership theory espouses and what works in practice.

  1. Deal with the world as it is, not how it should be
  2. Watch actions, not words
  3. Sometimes you have to behave badly to do good
  4. Leadership depends on the system the leader is in
  5. Stop either-or thinking
  6. Forgive, but remember

In ‘Leadership BS’ Jeffrey questions several of the major tenants and theories of leadership that have recently emerged.  Read this book to get a contrarian view on recent leadership theory and to get tactical advice on how to better navigate the real world as a leader.

Link to the book on Amazon

Link to Jeffry Pfeffer’s webpage