The Executive and the Elephant: A Leader's Guide for Achieving Inner Excellence

( 9 )


Praise for The Executive and the Elephant

"Wow, what a book! I started to breeze through it, and I ended up reading and thinking about every chapter. . . . The Executive and the Elephant touches both my brain and my heart, and the effect is at once humbling and energizing. I'm going to send copies to everyone I care about who is under pressure, working hard, and in a leadership position." ?William Ouchi, Sanford and Betty Sigoloff Distinguished Professor in Corporate Renewal, UCLA; author of Theory Z


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Praise for The Executive and the Elephant

"Wow, what a book! I started to breeze through it, and I ended up reading and thinking about every chapter. . . . The Executive and the Elephant touches both my brain and my heart, and the effect is at once humbling and energizing. I'm going to send copies to everyone I care about who is under pressure, working hard, and in a leadership position." —William Ouchi, Sanford and Betty Sigoloff Distinguished Professor in Corporate Renewal, UCLA; author of Theory Z

"Outstanding! Dick Daft has shed a whole new light on what it takes to set you apart as an effective leader. If I had read this book earlier in my career, I would have arrived sooner to the chairmanship of Bridgestone Americas." —Mark A. Emkes, retired chairman, CEO, and president, Bridgestone Americas, Inc.

"Filled with practical suggestions and novel insights, The Executive and the Elephant will transform anyone into a more effective leader." —Jeffrey Pfeffer, Thomas D. Dee II Professor of Organizational Behavior, Stanford Graduate School of Business; author of Power: Why Some People Have It—And Others Don't

"For thousands of years we have been programmed to think that leading change means doing things 'to' other people. In this wonderful book, Dick Daft helps us successfully transform ourselves into the leader—and person—we want to become." —Robert E. Quinn, M.E. Tracy Collegiate Professor, Ross School of Business, University of Michigan; author of Deep Change and Change the World

"This magnificent book contains a tapestry of wisdom from around the world that shows leaders how to begin serious self-transformation by someone who has been there, done that." —Peter Vaill, senior scholar and emeritus professor of management, Antioch University

"This book is a 'bible' for [leadership] self-development." —Ronald E. Riggio, Henry R. Kravis Professor of Leadership and Organizational Psychology, Claremont McKenna College

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780470372265
  • Publisher: Wiley
  • Publication date: 8/2/2010
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 336
  • Sales rank: 504,042
  • Product dimensions: 6.20 (w) x 9.00 (h) x 1.30 (d)

Meet the Author

Richard L. Daft holds the Brownlee O. Currey, Jr. Chair in the Owen Graduate School of Management, Vanderbilt University, where he specializes in the study and teaching of leadership. Professor Daft is the author or co-author of thirteen books, including his best selling texts, and dozens of scholarly articles. He has consulted and lectured widely and practices this book's concepts in his work and personal life. Write to

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Table of Contents



Part One The Two Selves.

1. The Problem of Managing Yourself.

The Conflict Between Knowing and Doing.

The Universal Failure of Willpower.

The Divided Self: Executive and Elephant.

Learning to Lead from Your Inner Executive.

Purpose of This Book.

2. Recognize Your Two Selves.

Levels of Consciousness.

Two Voices Within.

Why Your Mind Is Filled with Automatic Thoughts.

Unfocused Elephant Mind Versus Focused Executive Presence.

Small Box Versus Large Mind.

Part Two Ways You May Mislead or Delude Yourself.

3. Three Tendencies That Distort Your Reality.

Your Internal Judge.

Your Internal Magician.

Your Internal Attorney.

4. Every Leader's Six Mental Mistakes.

Reacting Too Quickly.

Inflexible Thinking.

Wanting Control.

Emotional Avoidance and Attraction.

Exaggerating the Future.

Chasing the Wrong Gratifications.

Part Three How to Start Leading Yourself.

5. Engage Your Intention.

Visualize Your Intention.

Verbalize Your Intention.

6. Follow Through on Your Intentions.

Write Down Your Intentions.

Set Deadlines.

Design Tangible Mechanisms.

7. Calm Down to Speed Up.

Get Connected.

Let It Happen.

Sit by Your Problem.

Relax Your Body.

Calm Your Elephant by Acting the Part or Making a Gentle Request.

8. Slow Down to Stop Your Reactions.

Stop and Think.

Stop Interrupting.

Detach from your Emotions and Impulses.

Just Say No.

Employ Punishment.

Part Four Become Aware of Your Inner Resources.

9. Get to Know Your Inner Elephant.

Know Yourself.

Solicit Feedback.

Take Advantage of a Setback.

10. Expand Your Awareness.

Review the Day.

Contemplate Creatively.

Part Five Reach for the Heights.

11. Sharpen Your Concentration.

Focus Your Attention.

Focus on Means, Not Ends.

Slow Down, Look, and Listen.

Focus on People.

12. Develop Your Witness.

Turn Inward to Develop Your Witness.

Use Radical Self-Inquiry.

Who Am I?

13. Reprogram Yourself.

Repeat a Mantra.

Prayer May Help, but Not the Way You Think.

14. Mend Your Mind with Meditation.

Why Meditate?

An Easy Way to Start.

Two Essentials.

Mindfulness Meditation.

Try Visual Rather Than Verbal.

Contemplative Meditation.

Part Six Can You Lead from a People Frame of Reference?

15. Change Your Frame to See People.

What Is Your Frame?

From Leading Objects to Leading Humans.

How to Change Your Frame.

16. Change Your Frame to Ask Questions.

From Answering Questions to Asking Questions.

In All Things, Consult.

17. Living and Leading from Your Inner Executive.

Higher Consciousness Revisited.

When Her Mind Went Quiet.

Answers to Individual Questions.

Final Thoughts.

The Author.


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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 5
( 9 )
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Sort by: Showing all of 9 Customer Reviews
  • Posted August 13, 2010

    Holistic, Practical and Substantial

    For managers aspiring to be executives and for executives seeking greater effectiveness and balance in their lives, this is the essential self-improvement book. I regret I did not read this earlier in my career. I became a C-level executive later in my worklife and this book would have accelerated my progress.

    The Executive and the Elephant is that rare gem that unifies spiritual teachings from various cultures with effective business leadership. It increased my self-awareness of why my actions often diverge from my intentions. Then , it gives practical, simple exercises to reconcile the two so that the executive manages the elephant, instead of the other way around.

    This will become a seminal leadership book. It has so much more depth than many of today's leadership books which tend to be based around a single idea that is repetitively explained. Use it as a guide to becoming a better leader and experiencing greater satisfaction in all areas of your life.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 1, 2011

    Excellent leadership advice

    This is an extremely helpful guide for leaders at all levels in the organization as well as for people in all walks of life. i have re-read several sections because they resounded with me in my situations at work or in my personal life. Dick Daft gives excellent examples and easy exercises to change the way you tackle negative thoughts and procrastination. He gives you a recipe to succeed and achieve goals using visualization and positive self-talk. A great book to pick up over and over for different needs.

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  • Posted November 11, 2010

    Maximizing Your Potential

    Dick Daft was one of my professors at Vanderbilt, and I am delighted with the opportunity to review his latest book. His lectures, and this resulting book, provide an insightful examination into why we behave the way we do -- both on the job and at home. This is more than a neuropsychological explanation of behavior, but is more of a "how to" guide for understanding, recognizing, and changing behavior patterns that limit us as leaders.

    The simple exercises included throughout the book are not to be skipped, but are essential steps toward improving self-awareness and learning to control the beast with-in. Easy to understand, this book brings practical applications from the classroom to the boardroom.

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  • Posted August 31, 2010

    Eliminate procrastination. Lose weight. Become an effective leader.

    With the help of this book you can achieve all of the above and more.

    Simply put, the Executive and the Elephant is a "must read" for those seeking to become more effective in leadership and in life. We all struggle with judgemental and impulsive tendencies which hijack our good intentions (what Dr Dick Daft describes as our Inner Elephant). In his book, Daft lays out simple, yet powerful, techniques to help train our inner elephants and bring our actions into line with our intentions.

    The ideas presented are utterly brilliant, but the application of those ideas and techniques into one's life will require discipline. There are no quick fixes, but there are enough tips and techniques in this book to allow everyone to find something that works for them.

    I highly recommend this book.

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  • Posted August 16, 2010

    Make Peace with Your Inner Elephant

    Your inner elephant might be stampeding and heading for a cliff. Please do yourself the favor of reading this book before you have fallen off that cliff. The ongoing challenge of one's life is to know and accept oneself. Dick Daft offers enlightening means to do this. Try just one of the methods he offers for making peace with your inner elephant and see where it takes you. I bet your inner executive will flourish as a result.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 10, 2010

    Leadership - Practical Insight (you can apply)

    This is NOT your typical leadership book - it's much better. For those who wonder how real leaders seem to make it look so easy and why it works for them, this is your book. Read the entire book, cover to cover, pass it on to a colleague, and then read it again when you can. Like me, you have probably already read many other leadership books and wondered why the information you read didn't seem to fully take hold or apply as easily as it sounded. Most of us already know what to do (or thought we did). The real underlying question is how to actually apply leadership knowledge and avoid or minimize the struggles. This book answers those questions with practical insight and easy to apply exercises that open up understanding about the true path to leadership. If what you are doing now seems too hard, you are going about it wrong. This book can change your paradigm from making it happen (manager mentality) to letting it happen - "A full cup will hold no more tea."

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  • Posted July 28, 2010

    Lead yourself before you lead others!

    Having read a number of books on leadership and sitting through various workshops it is refreshing to read The Executive and The Elephant, which is very simple and lucid in its approach to be a leader not just in professional life but also in personal life. The basic approach is provide simple exercises to understand why you behave the way you do and what is it that you can do to improve things. The exercises, their effectiveness and the experiences are from a wide range of age groups with varied back grounds, expertise and age groups. The content, the exercises and the stories will help one to start looking at oneself and others in a different lens. Another key thing is that the learning is not just for professional life but also for personal life and as such would recommend the book not just for people looking to improve for professional life but looking to discipline their personal life.

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  • Posted July 23, 2010

    Looking for Perspective?

    The material in the Executive and the Elephant provide wonderful perspective to the working professional. In the working world we often lose sight of the finer, softer details. This book provides real perspective that will enhance your ability to succeed both professionally and personally. Expect to wow'd by the eye opening adventure that awaits.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 20, 2011

    No text was provided for this review.

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