The Taboos of Leadership: The 10 Secrets No One Will Tell You about Leaders and What They Really Think

The Taboos of Leadership: The 10 Secrets No One Will Tell You about Leaders and What They Really Think

by Anthony F. Smith
     
 

Most experts on leadership would have us believe that successful leaders are superhuman beings who are humble servants, have hearts of gold, and are motivated by the needs of their employees and shareholders.

That's because no one's been telling the truth about leadership . . .

Most leaders who make it to the top possess characteristics that are all too

Overview

Most experts on leadership would have us believe that successful leaders are superhuman beings who are humble servants, have hearts of gold, and are motivated by the needs of their employees and shareholders.

That's because no one's been telling the truth about leadership . . .

Most leaders who make it to the top possess characteristics that are all too human: they have politically incorrect attitudes, are conflicted, and play politics to get their way. Written by leading management consultant Anthony F. Smith, The Taboos of Leadership reveals the rarely discussed realities of leadership—the secrets that leaders just cannot admit publicly for fear of losing power, self-respect, or even their jobs. This revelatory book will help both leaders and followers achieve real understanding and co-create a two-way street culture of openness, trust, and improved performance in their organizations.

The Taboos of Leadership discloses ten guarded secrets that leaders can't discuss, even with their closest constituents, including: charisma shouldn't make a difference . . . but it does; women make better leaders . . . when that's what they really want to do; blatant self-interest is dangerous . . . in followers, not leaders; thou shalt not play favorites with friends and family . . . except when it makes a lot of sense; and more.

Using real, in-the-trenches stories from Fortune 500 companies, Smith shows that once leaders and followers acknowledge the existence of a taboo in the workplace, they can then consider its positives and negatives. Leaders can determine if an existing taboo is hurting the organization or if it serves a useful purpose. If the taboo serves a useful purpose, they can consider ways to preserve it. If not, it should be pruned back and weeded out, allowing an organization and its leaders and followers to grow in a new way.

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
In this emperor-has-no-clothes exposé, Smith attempts to get into the heads of the powerful, reveal what goes on there and develop strategies for the inferiors who must cope with them. The managing director of the Leadership Research Institute, Smith dissects various leadership qualities-looking at heads of business, the military and politics, among others-as well as the way they're perceived by followers, employees and the general public. The innate hypocrisy of the human drive to power—"leadership is rooted in the urges of blatant self-interest"—creates a tension between leaders' public and private feelings; Smith posits that, though leaders' responsibility is to the team, they must protect their own power with "tough, hard, ruthless, and overtly political act[s]." This results, all too often, in "taboos" such as double standards, isolation and favoritism, all of which underlings find difficult, if not impossible, to address openly. The topics considered are many, including the difference charisma makes, the effect of gender, the successor-grooming game and the pursuit of a balanced lifestyle; the message, ultimately, is to speak up and look out.(May) (PublishersWeekly.com)

"... a useful call for leadership advocates to balance their natural optimism with realism." (Harvard Business Review, May 29, 2007)

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780787995829
Publisher:
Wiley
Publication date:
04/20/2007
Series:
J-B US non-Franchise Leadership Series, #213
Pages:
192
Product dimensions:
5.83(w) x 8.37(h) x 0.81(d)

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What People are saying about this

From the Publisher
"Leadership is a much-discussed but little-understood concept. Tony Smith calls on a lifetime of research and experience in the field to take the discussion in a refreshing new direction. By focusing on the importance of two-way communication and understanding, Tony delivers a deeper, richer picture of leadership and a road map for improving the performance of any organization."
—Paul Tagliabue, commissioner, National Football League (retired)

"By examining the role of leadership as a psychoanalyst would a troubled patient, Dr. Anthony Smith not only uncovers the root causes of rampant disorders in the postmodern corporate world, he also prescribes a series of groundbreaking changes that are at once brilliant and startling. Nothing is sacred in this book. Myths are exploded, taboos are broken, and the result is a revelation of common sense long barred from the boardroom."
—Mark Shapiro, president and CEO, Six Flags, Inc.

"Tony Smith is a keen observer who gets to the heart of leadership challenges and approaches. I especially appreciate that someone with his insight also has the courage to reveal the truth of leadership in this refreshing book."
—George Bodenhiemer, president, ESPN and ABC Sports; co-chairman, Disney Media Networks

"This may be the most realistic book on leadership to date."
—Larry Probst III, CEO, Electronic Arts

Meet the Author

Anthony F. Smith is co-founder and a managing director of Leadership Research Institute, recognized as one of the leading management consulting firms specializing in leadership development and assessment. An active writer and researcher whose articles have appeared in numerous publications, Smith was a contributor to the books The Leader of the Future and The Organization of the Future (from Jossey-Bass).

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