Leadocracy: Hiring More Great Leaders (Like You) into Government



Do you think your life will get better in the future?

Geoff Smart had some doubts. He saw what you see—how broken government has become. He worried about his career, his family’s future, and our everyday quality of life.

Then one day, Geoff received an unexpected message that ...

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Leadocracy: Hiring More Great Leaders (Like You) into Government

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Do you think your life will get better in the future?

Geoff Smart had some doubts. He saw what you see—how broken government has become. He worried about his career, his family’s future, and our everyday quality of life.

Then one day, Geoff received an unexpected message that changed how he saw the problem.
Geoff was asked to help. His journey took him behind the scenes to work with other private sector leaders who had made the leap into government. What he discovered will surprise you.

Leadocracy will tell you
•    Why great leaders avoid government
•    How the “3 As of Leadership” can help us identify, hire, and become better leaders
•    How we can avoid nonleader candidates like the Turtle, Bureaucrat, Screamer, and Idealist
•    How the adrenaline rush of “flow” can offer leaders from the private sector the adventure of a lifetime

Thomas Paine’s Common Sense painted a vision that inspired a generation and changed the course of human history. The movement of our time is leadocracy—government by society’s greatest leaders. Leaders like you.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
In his latest, motivational speaker Smart (Who: The A Method for Hiring) promotes “leadocracy,” which he defines as “government by society’s greatest leaders.” To make this happen, Smart offers his “A” Method, or the three As: analyzing goals, allocating resources, and aligning personnel. “Holding on to a corporate job that has become routine does not offer many chances to experience flow,” Smart observes lamely of the complex psychological concept. The energy of “flow” comes, he promises, “when a leader is in the process of applying the 3 As of Leadership” to government and “sees the excitement on the faces of key constituents.” Banal discussion questions such as “Are great leaders born or made?” conclude each chapter. Though Smart promises to guide his readers to creative control of bureaucracies, the results are incoherent. Smart floats his Leaders Initiative, a not-for-profit organization, and offers a hokey Leadocracy Pledge promising that the signer “will complete a full-time, two-year leadership role in government by my sixtieth birthday.” Those dreaming of government jobs might find some inspiration, but would-be government leaders who face iron bureaucracies and complex regulatory procedures will need less fuzzy talk and a more detailed blueprint. While Smart wears the mantle of his teacher Peter F. Drucker, an expert on modern corporations, his system will captivate few Drucker fans. (July)
H. Wayne Huizenga

“Leadocracy is a refreshingly simple solution to the problem of government dysfunction.” —H. Wayne Huizenga, chairman of Huizenga Holdings; former founder and CEO of three Fortune 500 companies
Ken Griffin

“At a time of deep doubt about the ability of our federal government to manage our country, Leadocracy provides a reason for hope. As Geoff Smart demonstrates in this timely book, with great leadership no problem is unsolvable.”  —Ken Griffin, CEO of Citadel
Stephen A. Schwarzman

“As someone who has seen up close hundreds of companies succeed or fail, I can tell you that the quality of the leader is the number one driver of success. Leadocracy shows how to get more great leaders into government, which we sorely need.” —Stephen A. Schwarzman, chairman, CEO, and cofounder of the Blackstone Group
Ted Waitt

“If we don’t have leadership in this country with the experience to develop a smart long-term economic growth plan, the guts to aggressively execute it, and the perseverance to stick with it over the long haul, we’ll never again see the economic prosperity we’ve come to take for granted.” —Ted Waitt, chairman of Avalon Capital Group and the Waitt Family Foundation; cofounder and former CEO of Gateway
Charles Butt

“Leadership is the key to human progress. Geoff Smart’s book leads the way.” —Charles Butt, Chairman, H-E-B
John Malone

“If we can systematically find ways to attract our best leaders to government, as Leadocracy describes, the quality of life of our society will improve.”
—John Malone, Ph.D., Chairman, Liberty Media Corporation
Governor John W. Hickenlooper of Colorado

“Our future, the world’s future, depends on attracting better leaders to government.  Leadocracy provides a blueprint for how to do it.  Reading it is an inspiration.”
—Governor John W. Hickenlooper of Colorado
Governor Mitch Daniels of Indiana

“Leadocracy documents what we in Indiana have learned firsthand:  With leadership from citizens possessing the right mix of experience and vision, good government is not a lost cause.”
—Governor Mitch Daniels of Indiana
Mark Emkes

“Private sector leadership is badly needed in the public sector. Leadocracy shows us how to make this happen.”
—Mark Emkes, Commissioner of Finance & Administration, State of Tennessee; former CEO of Bridgestone Americas
Governor Jack Markell of Delaware

“Geoff Smart makes clear the compelling need for top talent to choose public service. Leadocracy demonstrates the difference strong leadership makes in the public and private sectors.” —Governor Jack Markell of Delaware
Fred Steingraber

“It is high time that we focus far more on improving the return on investment of our tax dollars. The best approach for accomplishing this is for successful business leaders to step forward and give back by applying their wealth of practical business experience and objective fact-based analysis to government leadership and decision making.”
—Fred Steingraber, President of Kenilworth, IL, and Chairman Emeritus, A.T. Kearney
Roxane White

“Nothing we do in government is as important as who we hire into key leadership roles. Leadocracy and Geoff’s previous book Who, outline principles that we have applied with great success here in Colorado.” —Roxane White, chief of staff to Governor John Hickenlooper of Colorado
Lynn Johnson

“What a ‘Smart’ book! Leadocracy redefines government leadership and what it should be, results-based and focused on why true leaders choose to work in government—to help better the lives of others in a streamlined, efficient, and accountable manner.”
—Lynn Johnson, Executive Director, Jefferson County, CO, Department of Human Services
Wendy Kopp

“Education reform and government reform are interrelated. I believe that leadership is the answer to both. I applaud Geoff Smart’s initiative and willingness to bring his hiring methods into the public sector with Leadocracy.” —Wendy Kopp, founder of Teach For America
Mike Feinberg and David Levin

“We have used Geoff Smart’s methods for hiring here at KIPP with great results. We would love to see them applied to how government leaders are selected, the way he outlines in Who and Leadocracy.” —Mike Feinberg and David Levin, cofounders of the Knowledge Is Power Program (KIPP), the largest charter school operator in the United States
Professor Steven Kaplan

“A high-performing government requires high-performing leaders; Leadocracy convincingly shows that we have an under-tapped supply in the private sector and desperately need to engage them.”
—Professor Steven Kaplan, The University of Chicago Booth School of Business
Professor Morten Sorensen

“I am encouraged by the idea of more great private sector leaders going into the public sector, a trend which Leadocracy outlines.”
—Professor Morten Sorensen, Columbia Business School
Professor Stewart Donaldson

“The evaluation of any organization starts with an assessment of the leader. Geoff Smart has made a compelling case for leader-oriented government reform in Leadocracy.”
—Professor Stewart Donaldson, Dean & Chair of Psychology, Claremont Graduate University
Professor Noam Wasserman

“Part diagnosis, part call-to-arms, Geoff Smart’s Leadocracy injects a thought-provoking new voice into the dialogue about how to improve our government. It will hopefully spark better leaders to seek key positions at all levels of government.”
—Professor Noam Wasserman, Harvard Business School, author of The Founder’s Dilemmas: Anticipating and Avoiding the Pitfalls That Can Sink a Startup
Marshall Goldsmith

“Geoff Smart is the world expert on the topic of hiring leaders. What he suggests we do in Leadocracy to get more great leaders into government is wise counsel.” —Marshall Goldsmith, winner of the 2011 Thinkers50 Leadership Award as the World’s Most-Influential Leadership Thinker; New York Times bestselling author or editor of thirty-one books, including What Got You Here Won’t Get You There
Atul Gawande

“Geoff Smart is one of the nation’s top thinkers on how to hire great people. And he has put his finger on our fundamental failure as voters--we don’t hire great people into government. Leadocracy shows how that can change.” —Atul Gawande, MD, surgeon; bestselling author of The Checklist Manifesto
Aaron Kennedy

“Leadocracy helps to demystify government, and shows how great leaders from the private sector can make a difference in the public sector, for the good of us all.” —Aaron Kennedy, founder, Noodles & Company
Craig Zoberis

“Geoff Smart’s previous book, Who, was the number one most impactful book on my career as a CEO. I am hopeful Leadocracy will be as impactful on society.”
—Craig Zoberis, CEO of Fusion OEM
Kent Thiry

“It is about time this subject got the thoughtful treatment it deserves. The sad fact is our government is a source of competitive disadvantage for our country. The happy fact is Geoff’s book may start to change that.” —Kent Thiry, chairman and CEO of DaVita
Mike Fries

“One of my main goals in business is to find and grow great leaders. Our success depends on it. Sadly, there is no such training ground in government. We should expect more from our politicians and Leadocracy makes a strong case for greater private participation in the public sector.” —Mike Fries, CEO of Liberty Global
Darrin Anderson

“Geoff Smart is ‘the man’ when it comes to hiring. I am pleased to see him applying his methods to the daunting task of selecting government leaders. Leadocracy is a step in the right direction.” —Darrin Anderson, regional vice president at HD Supply
Verne Harnish

“Thousands of successful entrepreneurs around the world know about Geoff Smart’s ideas about leadership and performance, and they apply them with great success. In Leadocracy, I am pleased to see the world of government is starting to take note.”
—Verne Harnish, Founder, Entrepreneurs’ Organization, and author of Mastering the Rockefeller Habits
Scott Mesh

“Geoff Smart’s book Who gave us the key strategies and methods that helped us hire top talent. This has allowed us to create an award-winning culture and excel in our social mission. Leadocracy shows how to hire great leaders for the public sector.”
—Scott Mesh, Ph.D., CEO, Los Niños Services
Greg Alexander

“I used to say that I would never in a million years consider going into government. However, Leadocracy has changed my mind.” —Greg Alexander, CEO of Sales Benchmark Index; author of Making the Number
Scott Clawson

“Geoff Smart’s methods have helped me hire a great team. I can only imagine how much good will be done for society when this approach is applied to hiring government leaders.” —Scott Clawson, president of GSI Group
Ken Lund

“I loved my job in the private sector. I love my job in the public sector. People seem to think that government is only about gridlock and dysfunction. It’s not, as Leadocracy illustrates. Great leaders can make a huge difference, and they can have a fun and meaningful chapter of their career in government.” —Ken Lund, executive director of the Office of Economic Development and International Trade; former managing partner at Holme Roberts & Owen
Kevin Burns

“I would LOVE to see more of Geoff Smart’s principles of hiring applied to how we choose our government leaders.” —Kevin Burns, managing principal at Lazard Technology Partners; former CEO of InterSolv
Chrismon Nofsinger

“Great leaders go through stages in their careers. Leadocracy makes a great case for why one of those stages should be a stint in government.” —Chrismon Nofsinger, Ph.D., founder and CEO of the Nofsinger Group; author of The Shift From One to Many
Eric Cohen

“Leadocracy is bound to be one of the most impactful books of our generation. Government desperately needs more great leaders. Great leaders need a sense of meaning and challenge in their careers. When the two come together, the game will change for the better.” —Eric Cohen, president of Power Plant Services
Panos Anastassiadis

“Geoff Smart’s approach to hiring was game changing for me as CEO, which allowed my team to deliver a 67 percent internal rate of return to our investors. I can only hope his expertise has the same kind of impact on the world of government leadership, which badly needs it.” —Panos Anastassiadis, former CEO of Cyveillence
Richard Bryan

“Leadocracy signals a movement that is underway to hire more great leaders into government. I hope my fellow Brits figure this one out too; our way of life depends on it.” —Richard Bryan, managing director of BBH Properties
managing partner at Cresendo Capital Partners; former CEO of Peak Industries; author of Shortcut to

“The world continues to grow in complexity while the democratic process we use to govern has become mired in bureaucracy and increasingly ineffective. Leadocracy offers a provocative new strategy to engage our strongest leaders, enabling government agencies to deliver more with less.”
—managing partner at Cresendo Capital Partners; former CEO of Peak Industries; author of Shortcut to Prosperity
Marshall Goldsmith
“Geoff Smart is the world expert on the topic of hiring leaders. What he suggests we do in Leadocracy to get more great leaders into government is wise counsel.”
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781608322886
  • Publisher: Greenleaf Book Group, LLC
  • Publication date: 6/5/2012
  • Pages: 176
  • Sales rank: 1,166,420
  • Product dimensions: 5.50 (w) x 8.10 (h) x 0.80 (d)

Meet the Author

Geoff Smart, PhD, is passionate about great leadership. He is the chairman and CEO of ghSMART, the management assessment firm for CEOs and investors. His assessment, feedback, and coaching tools are used around the world. He is the coauthor of the New York Times bestseller Who: The A Method for Hiring. And he has started two nonprofits focused on encouraging great leaders to grow and serve.
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Read an Excerpt



Greenleaf Book Group Press

Copyright © 2012 Geoff Smart
All right reserved.

ISBN: 978-1-60832-288-6

Chapter One

Who, Not What

Laws and institutions must go hand in hand with the progress of the human mind. As that becomes more developed, more enlightened ... institutions must advance also, and keep pace with the times. —Thomas Jefferson

On a cold day in December of 2010, I received the following email from a client:


As you might be aware, I am on the governor-elect's transition team. Various lawyers and professionals are donating hundreds of hours. Would your firm be prepared to interview two to three of the top candidates for various cabinet positions? We would need this done in the next couple of weeks, as they are making the announcements by year-end. Roxane White, chief of staff, would like to call you.

Thanks in advance. The People of Colorado appreciate your support.

Blair Richardson

My initial reaction was, "No way!"

Various thoughts crossed my mind. Help the government? Government is hopeless and broken. What's the point? We're on a path to inevitable doom. Eventually, if it gets bad enough, I'll have to move my family to Australia or somewhere.

Any help I offer to the new governor would be pointless. All of his leadership hiring decisions will be politically motivated anyway.

The next couple of weeks? It's December 13! I was planning on coasting into the New Year and eating myself into a pleasant holiday stupor, maybe doing some shopping with the family. Bad timing. Too bad, so sad.

I'm going to say no.

That's what I thought. I started writing back with my regrets. "I'm sorry, but—"

My fingers froze on the keyboard.

A thought had popped into my head. Blair is somebody for whom I have the utmost respect. He radiates success—kind, polite, and never too busy to forget to put a tri-fold pocket square in his blazer. He's smart, has delivered impressive results as a global business leader, has a great family, and so on. If he is helping, maybe the situation isn't hopeless, I thought. Besides, Time magazine had called the new governor, John Hickenlooper, one of the "Five Best Big-City Mayors" in his previous job as mayor of Denver, and he had been a business leader and entrepreneur before that. I realized that I wouldn't mind meeting him. In fact, it was a rare opportunity to meet a fellow businessperson who had gone into public service. I was curious what it was like. And I was interested in meeting our new governor, to see what he was all about. I had voted for him, after all.

I deleted the words I had written, and wrote this instead:


I voted for Hickenlooper, and am happy to use my firm's expertise to help him pick a great cabinet. His success as our governor will be largely determined by the quality of the team he selects. Privileged to serve.

The work I was about to do for the governor ended up being the most exciting, meaningful, and fun work I did all year. And I can point to it as the moment that put me on the path to a very different mind-set about government and how to improve it.

A Journey Begins

Four days after I sent the reply, I found myself at a small round conference table with John Hickenlooper, the newly elected governor of my home state of Colorado, and his chief of staff, Roxane White. Our task was to discuss whom to hire for key cabinet roles. The governor was to take office in three weeks.

In person, Governor Hickenlooper looked like the brew pub owner that he once was—energetic, friendly, and genuine. A mop of semi-combed hair flopped around cheerfully as he spoke. But I noticed an intensity of purpose behind his eyes, which let me know that we had important business to attend to today. And Roxane White—I was not sure what to expect from this former not-for-profit CEO and social-services director. Was she going to be a bleeding heart? I had heard that she was tough as nails. Was she going to be that in a good way, or a pain to work with? What I found was a woman who matched the governor on energy, but managed to steer hers, and his, into lanes of highly productive decision making. Instantly, I could see why they made a great pair in their previous jobs as mayor of Denver and mayoral chief of staff.

Would this be a formal and stilted conversation? I had wondered how this governor would respond to my business-oriented approach to leadership selection. I was expecting this to be a waste of his time and mine. Any moment, I would hear the words or see the actions that would confirm my assumption that all government was dysfunctional beyond any hope of repair. But I was in for a surprise.

While the mood was serious, it was also refreshingly upbeat and practical. Governor Hickenlooper was engaged and clearly determined to make the best possible leadership decisions for key roles in his cabinet. The discussion about candidates was focused, fact-based, and lively. We focused on one key role at a time. What was the mission for the role? Key outcomes to achieve? Competencies that matter in that role? What about the slate of candidates? What are their backgrounds? To what extent do we have data to suggest how strong or weak they are on our scorecard checklist areas? What remaining questions need to be addressed before the in-depth interview?

The chief of staff had a refreshing can-do attitude in the face of this daunting challenge. Once we covered a topic thoroughly, we shifted seamlessly to the next topic of importance. These people are as sharp as any of my CEO or private-equity clients. This is going really well. Oh my gosh, I admitted to myself, I am actually having fun.

The governor's leadership competence began to chip away at my negative assumptions. First, he was clearly more interested in hiring the best leader than in playing politics. He didn't make any references to political party during these discussions. Not once. Let me repeat that: We spent hours discussing key hires for cabinet roles. Not one time did the governor say the word Republican or Democrat. That was mind-blowing to me; I assumed that every elected leader cared mostly about the politics surrounding appointment decisions.

Second, he had his eye on results. What were we trying to achieve in human services, by when? How much would that cost? It was a very straightforward discussion of outcomes and strategies, not too different from thousands of conversations I have had with leaders in the private sector. Then he really surprised me and started talking about customers.

When I heard the governor refer to citizens as "customers," I almost fell out of my swivel chair. Our citizens are our customers. We are here because they put us here. How do we take their tax revenue and invest it as wisely as possible? How do we manage those investments of time and money as intelligently as possible to deliver the best results?

I was shocked. And the second thing that I felt was a sense of relief. Maybe the situation in government is not hopeless, I thought.

All was going well, but then something happened.

Flipping through some of the résumés for one cabinet position, I began to feel disheartened. The job we were discussing was a big one. It required managing a multibillion-dollar business unit, or department, in the government. Thousands of employees. Weak performance outcomes. It was a big leadership responsibility to turn this organization around. "There are a few impressive candidates in the stack, but too few," I said. "Where's the A list?" I asked with my palms open, hoping not to insult anybody. I then added, with a smile on my face to bring some levity to my question, "Do you have some secret drawer somewhere where you keep all the great résumés? You know, people who have actually managed a $3 billion P&L before, and have led thousands of employees successfully?"

The governor and his chief of staff cried out, almost in unison, "We can't get enough of the kind of leaders you are talking about. They won't come!"

The governor continued, "I would love nothing better than to hire the very best leaders we have in our state. But they have a perception that government is unsavory, so they won't come."

Before I could stop myself, I blurted out, "Isn't government unsavory?" My face got red as I realized how insulting it sounded.

The governor was not fazed by my question. "It doesn't have to be," Governor Hickenlooper replied with a small smile.

"In our administration, we're going to be all about talent and results. We are going to make government the 3 Es— more elegant, effective, and efficient. So it will be a lot less unsavory for my key leaders here than in an administration that was all about politics. In the right situation, a cabinet job like this can actually be incredibly rewarding and meaningful for a leader."

So all government roles are not unsavory. OK. Hmm. Maybe more leaders would go into government if we let them know that this is true. But right now, we clearly have an absence of great leaders.

That's why government is so messed up, I thought.

I asked, "So what if you could get all the great leaders you want? Let's say I backed a school bus up to your door right there, and it was filled with the state's greatest leaders, eager to accept positions in your administration?"

The governor quickly replied, "Well, you would have a government that performed much, much better. There is no question about that. The change would be profound."

That is when it really clicked. Yes, government is broken; everyone knows that. Our attempts to fix it have been focused on chasing what solutions—new laws, regulations, fiddling with policies, arguing about ideology. But what if the fundamental problem were not a what problem? What if the fundamental problem were a who problem?

What if the fundamental problem was simply that we did not have enough great leaders in government? Then it would make sense for us to stop chasing the what, and solve the who, I thought. That point is in the last sentence of Who, the book I coauthored. It was echoing in my head as I sat there.

Stop chasing the what. Solve the who.

I looked at the governor and his chief of staff and, choosing my words carefully as I counted out six fingers, I said, "Hiring. More. Great. Leaders. Into. Government. There is a six-word solution to the problem of how to reform government. I shrugged my shoulders to invite honest feedback. "Right?"

Five seconds of silence.

Then the governor replied, "Yes."

That December day, in that room with the governor, something told me that this solution did not apply just to our state but also could apply to all governments everywhere. Getting more great leaders into government could improve the quality of life of people around the world. OK, that might be a fundamental solution. But how to make that happen? "Someone should develop a program to get those leaders in office," I said. "You could just go get them. You could demystify government for them. You could train them. Then they do a stint. You could begin at the state level. And if it worked, the idea could spread to other states, and then to the federal and local levels, and then to other countries."

"Like Teach for America," Chief of Staff White added.

"They could do a stint for a couple of years," said the governor, "and if they want to stay in it, they could; or they could then roll off back into the private sector. It's not like they would have to spend the rest of their career in government."

Silence. Exchange of looks. We were playing a game of "who's going to step up?" The governor's expression—eyes wide open, eyebrows arched—told me what he was thinking: OK, Mr. Bright Idea Guy, I'm serving as governor. I'm already doing my part. What are you going to do to help the cause?

I knew he would need someone to get such a program up and running. Someone who was a believer in the power of great leadership. Someone who could help to bridge great leaders from the private sector into the public sector. Oh my gosh, that would take a lot of time if you do it right, I thought. I can't believe what I'm about to offer. Here, I have been skeptical about government for forty years. And now, after one enjoyable meeting with an enlightened governor, I'm going to offer to start some government reform initiative?

I didn't even wait for him to vocalize the need.

"I'll do it," I said. (Gulp.) And "it" turned into two things: (1) the book you hold in your hands, and (2) The Leaders Initiative, which is described in chapter 7.

Why Leaders Are the Solution

I'm passionate about great leaders. I have seen many times how great leaders can turn around or improve organizations. And when you have the wrong leader or leaders, no amount of policy change or strategizing makes a darn bit of difference. Governor Hickenlooper seemed like he really "got it." So did his chief of staff.

However, while I was walking back to my car after that meeting, I felt a wave of doubt sweep over me. You know that feeling when you've just committed to do something big and scary, and you're starting to wonder if it was such a great idea after all? Just because I have a passion for leadership doesn't mean that it's the solution to society's problems, I thought. You've heard the saying by the psychologist Abraham Maslow, "If the only tool you have is a hammer, everything looks like a nail." Maybe I'm a leadership junkie, so the only solution to fixing government I see is leadership. And maybe all of the leadership success stories I've witnessed in the business world aren't relevant to the world of government. Maybe it's not a good solution. Maybe I'm not the guy.

In Jim Collins's landmark book Good to Great (2001), he urges leaders to focus on "First Who ... Then What." My book Who outlines a step-by-step approach to achieving the goal of successful hiring with 90 percent accuracy. But I wondered whether this fundamental solution for business applied to government.

And yet, a friend had once come to me with a very similar idea. Mark Gallogly serves on President Obama's Council on Jobs and Competitiveness and was a senior managing director with the investment firm Blackstone Group before he cofounded Centerbridge Partners. Years ago, he recommended that I read Ben Franklin's autobiography and emulate Franklin's practice of getting talented people from commerce together to discuss issues of the day from a civic perspective and engage in problem solving. Mark is incredibly smart. As I recalled his counsel, I felt encouraged that I was on the right track.

And when I considered what I'd seen leaders accomplish when the who got solved before trying to tackle the what, I felt even more confident.

I have witnessed many versions of the following story. The members of the board of directors of a company are sitting around a large, shiny, wooden boardroom table. The conversation is going down the wrong path. They are taking a what approach to trying to diagnose and to fix a troubled company. The company has been struggling for several years. The CEO is asked to step out for the last half-hour so the board could talk candidly about the dire situation. The discussion among board members goes something like this: One board member says, "We clearly have a financial problem—margins are falling and our revenue is not meeting forecast either. I have some ideas about what we can do financially to right the ship." Another says, "No, we have a product problem—we are getting beaten on quality and we aren't positioning our core products right. We need to execute a whole product overhaul." And another says, "It's actually a sales problem—we just don't have the right sales process in place." I raise my hand and say, "You are wisely pointing out many what problems that this company is facing. But the job of the board is to make one great who decision—to hire the right CEO. Based on our analysis, you have a CEO problem. My recommendation is to focus your energy on hiring the right CEO, and then let that person fix all of these other problems you have identified." The board eventually takes advice. And it works. The new CEO hires more great people. He or she articulates clear goals to the organization, puts in place a plan to improve products and processes, executes with urgency and accountability, and the financial performance improves. I have seen this pattern many times. If you fix the who problem, the what problems get better. What would stop great leaders from improving government in the same way?

I had to find out whether the principle applied in government. Because I was a newbie to government, I needed input from people with more experience. What if I could identify and interview great leaders in government to find out what their context was really like?

I was able to track down and talk to some amazing leaders. These conversations took me on an incredible journey of discovery. I'll share that journey throughout the book, but my discussions with these great leaders ultimately boiled down to three big insights: Great leaders tackle challenges head on. Great leaders are talent magnets. And great leaders deliver great results for stakeholders, sometimes against long odds. Given our current problems and level of dysfunction, we need great leaders in government now more than ever.


Excerpted from LEADOCRACY by GEOFF SMART Copyright © 2012 by Geoff Smart. Excerpted by permission of Greenleaf Book Group Press. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

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Table of Contents

Introduction: Solving Our #1 Problem 1

Chapter 1 Who, Not What 17

Chapter 2 The 3 As of Leadership 35

Chapter 3 Our Most Valuable Untapped Resource 55

Chapter 4 Why Great Leaders Avoid Government 74

Chapter 5 What's in It for You 94

Chapter 6 Vote Smart 109

Chapter 7 The Leaders Initiative 130

Chapter 8 Living in a Leadocracy 147

Appendices 157

Acknowledgements of Awesomeness 161

Notes 164

About the Author 165

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Sort by: Showing all of 4 Customer Reviews
  • Posted September 21, 2012

    The government sucks. Bad. During my journalism days, I was a po

    The government sucks. Bad. During my journalism days, I was a political junkie. My life revolved around politics. Now that I am no longer writing political pieces, I have taken huge steps back. I read CNN every night before bed and that's it. I keep my head clear of it.

    But, even though I am not as immersed in it as I was before, I can see (as I am sure most everyone else can) that the government is severely broken and in dire need of repair. Author Geoff Smart presents a way to fix it in the nonfiction LEADOCRACY. He stresses it's not the "what" that is wrong, but the "who."
    Now, this is not about political parties. This is not a Republican saying the Democrats need to be booted and vice versa. And thank goodness! There is only so much more of the political party bickering that I can take. This is an honest, neutral assessment of the problem and a possible solution to it.
    First and foremost -- getting good leaders. And not the leaders that major in political science. Smart is talking about leaders in business. The ones that have built and maintained a successful business. Makes sense to me. After all, the government is essentially a business.
    I love the way this book is presented and written. It is very straightforward and simple. Smart gets to the point and he uses examples and facts to back up his points. You do not need a political science degree to understand it. You do need to have some interest in politics, though. Otherwise, this book is really not for you.
    Actually, the book might be written too simply. It might be the idea that is presented more than the way it is written that has captured my attention. If more people would read this book and take these points to heart, I think actual change would occur. I'm not just talking about voting power. I'm talking about the people who are excellent leaders who recognize that they can be part of the solution. Until those people become interested in public service, the voting public will have to contend with not-so-great leaders as their political candidates.
    All in all, 4 out of 5 stars.

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  • Posted September 19, 2012

    more from this reviewer

    Common Sense and Very Informative

    I try to keep politics aside from my book reviews, well, at least on my blog. Not necessarily politics in general, but party affiliation, and who I plan to vote for, etc.
    I was surprised to receive a book that actually just made perfect sense, and didn't swing to either side whatsoever. I wish more people could think like this and could read between the lines. It irks me so much, what is going on in this country and I can't believe the news each day, and I certainly can't believe what in the world is going on.
    I quite frankly am sick of voting for the lesser of 2 evils, and would love nothing more then to have regular Americans, running for office. But, of course, who wants to do that??
    I appreciated the writing in this book, mainly the fact that it wasn't swayed, and it sure wasn't a rant of any kind, it was actually rather positive. (Which is hard to be these days) But, the author gives some hope. Especially with his morals and his well laid out ideas, plans, and information. It really isn't that hard to figure out, although so many seem to have lost a few brain cells over the years, I sit here some days with my mouth hanging open trying to figure out, why??? How?? HUH??
    It is easier then some think, and I only hope this book makes it in the hands of many hopefuls like the author, and myself. I would love to see more citizens running for office, I don't care how small the positions, as long as it is something! We all want to complain, and carry on, but yet nobody wants to actually get up and do something about the mess. Many of us have the brains and the ideas, and the experience, so what is holding everybody back?
    If only Government, and society would read this book, and see how simple this fix really is, and actually how we can use this to our advantage, this country and many others, could be a better place!
    I have to say, I am personally involved in politics, I am a mom, and a bartender, but I am pretty current, a daily listener, watcher, reader, researcher, and I have read many books about politics and how a Government should and can and never will, govern. Most of those books end up being partial to one side, and that really turns me off. Why can't we all just be happy and civil and brainstorm together?? If you agree with these thoughts, Leadocracy, is the prime choice for you!

    ** I received a copy of this book in return for my honest review **

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  • Posted July 14, 2012

    Geoff Smart correctly identifies the problem we face as a countr

    Geoff Smart correctly identifies the problem we face as a country, I believe: not enough great leaders in the public sector, particularly at the highest levels. Whether you agree with him that the private sector is a good training ground for leaders (just the best ones) or not, I don't think that most people would disagree that we need better people stepping up and that we as voters need to do a better job of not being swayed by one-issue candidates, by fear mongers, by people who can give a good speech but can't lead their way out of a bag. And he offers some great tools to help us do so.

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  • Posted July 4, 2012

    more from this reviewer

    I Also Recommend:

    This book is boring and a waste! Read Magnetizing: a different w

    This book is boring and a waste! Read Magnetizing: a different world way better.

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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