Won't Get Fooled Again: A Voter's Guide to Seeing Through the Lies, Getting Past the Propaganda and Choosing the Best Leaders

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In the last decade, incompetent leadership has done more to change the face of our world than perhaps in any other time in history. Recent events like Hurricane Katrina and the war in Iraq have proven that blind faith in our rulers is more than foolish—it can be downright dangerous. The world has grown more complicated and more volatile, and making intelligent decisions about the people in charge has never been more crucial. What causes us to follow bad leaders and how can we stop it? The answer is simple: If we ...

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Overview

In the last decade, incompetent leadership has done more to change the face of our world than perhaps in any other time in history. Recent events like Hurricane Katrina and the war in Iraq have proven that blind faith in our rulers is more than foolish—it can be downright dangerous. The world has grown more complicated and more volatile, and making intelligent decisions about the people in charge has never been more crucial. What causes us to follow bad leaders and how can we stop it? The answer is simple: If we want better leaders, we need to become better informed and more demanding followers. Won’t Get Fooled Again is an eye-opening look at the politicians and other public servants who promise too much and deliver too little. Using extensive research and solid evidence, author Joseph Boyett reveals:

• why we need leaders in the first place • how to tell if a leader is authentic • the top four red flags that your leader’s vision is flawed • why “wishy-washy” can­di­dates and “flip floppers” can make the best leaders

Timely and revelatory, this is the one book that will change the way we vote, the way we see the world, and who we trust.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

"Boyett has written a sophisticated, coherent guide to understanding and deciphering the complex psychological dynamics of the leader-follower relationship. This timely work also provides cogent strategies to help voters make more informed decisions." Library Journal Xpress

"Wow! This is a must have book." American Pundit blog

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780814409312
  • Publisher: AMACOM
  • Publication date: 7/10/2008
  • Pages: 304
  • Product dimensions: 6.20 (w) x 9.00 (h) x 1.20 (d)

Meet the Author

Joseph H. Boyett (Alpharetta, GA) holds a Ph.D. in political science and is a respected international leadership consultant. He is cofounder of Boyett & Associates and the author of many books including The Guru Guide.

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Read an Excerpt

Introduction

If incompetence were all we had to worry about when it came

to bad political leaders, we could count ourselves lucky. But bad

leaders are frequently dangerous, even deadly. Just ask the survivors of

America’s Katrina disaster about the amount of damage incompetent

leadership can cause.

The world is no longer a simple place. It is interconnected, unpredictable,

and speeding toward who knows where. Events seem out of control,

and to a large extent they are.

It wasn’t always that way.

Even after the great wars of this past century, our parents inherited at

least a short period of stability. They knew who they were and where they

were going, and they had confidence in their ability to get there. They may

not have always liked their presidents, but overall they trusted them. There

were rules of behavior and expectations to be met. They could place reasonable

trust in their leaders. In contrast, our children and grandchildren

are inheriting a world where chaos, crisis, and change seem to be their

only future and where at least healthy skepticism, if not outright distrust,

is advised.

We are living in a world where right and wrong are not polar opposites

but only shades of difference. Thinking is required. The seemingly

obvious course of action is often wrong. What’s certain on the surface is

often an illusion. Dogma leads to despair. We are living in an age when

measured action is a necessity. Intelligence isn’t a luxury. We’ve used up

our stupid quotient. It is time to get it right. We must cast away all the

things that get in the way of knowledge.We must set our sights on a higher

purpose built upon facts, science, and just plain smarts. We need to

educate the young to be devoted to knowledge and not superstition, to

enlightenment and not ignorance, to inclusion and not rejection, to reality

and not blind faith. We need to believe in ourselves. We need leaders

who measure up.We must demand more of those who say, ”Follow me.”

We must ask, “Why?”And we must insist on an answer based on truth, not

empty rhetoric. Don’t just tell us that the torch has been passed to a new

generation. Tell us what you intend to do with the torch. Words aren’t

enough.We want a clear and practical path to tomorrow.

We need better leaders, but we aren’t going to get them until we

become smarter and more demanding followers.We just aren’t getting the

quality leadership we deserve. That needs to change. It’s time to send a

message to corrupt politicians, incompetent bureaucrats, and all those

who assume power and then abuse it that we won’t take their failures and

betrayal anymore.Most of the time, most of us are followers, not leaders.

Many leaders assume that people who follow are weak and dependent.

They pump themselves up and parade before us, as if they are somehow

better than we are. Books celebrate their leadership. The media glorifies

them.We say, “Bull!”

Leaders don’t have the ultimate power; followers do.Without followers,

leaders cannot lead. They can’t even call themselves leaders. As Bryan

Wilson, author of The Noble Savages, put it, “If a man runs naked down

the street proclaiming that he alone can save others from impending

doom, and if he immediately wins a following, then he is a charismatic

leader. A social relationship has come into being. If he does not win a following,

he is simply a lunatic.”1 The point is that leadership occurs not in

the leader, or among the followers for that matter, but in the social and

psychological intersection where leader and followers meet. That knowledge

can, and should, be empowering for followers everywhere. Leaders

can’t exist without us.

My message is simple. If we want better leaders, we must become

more informed and more demanding followers. It’s time to put aside permanently

some erroneous ideas, such as the notions that followers are

weak and leaders are strong, that followers need leaders more than leaders

need followers, and that followers need heroes to save them from all

manner of calamities. It’s time for followers to sit at the banquet table and

for leaders to serve. We must say to the contenders for high office, “It is

not enough for you just to be a savvy politician.We’re on to your tricks of

persuasion. We are looking for real leadership that goes beyond a crafty

façade, skilled image management, and manipulation of opinion. We

want to know what lies below the surface of your fancy words. We are

looking for substance, not superficiality.”

If you are sick of being misled by politicians who promise much and

deliver little, this book is for you.

If you are tired of being seduced by the imagery of false prophets and

tricked by those who exploit corrupt influence for personal gain, this book

is for you.

If you are tired of leaders enriching themselves at your expense, this

book is for you.

If you are tired of voting for change and getting only more of the

same, this book is for you.

If you are tired of members of Congress and the president putting

politics ahead of voters’ concerns and the country’s needs, this book is for

you.

If you are ready to make your president, governor, mayor, senator, and

all those others who proclaim they are “in charge,” your servant rather

than your savior, this book is for you.

I’ve spent much of the last five years researching the social psychology

of political persuasion and leader–follower relationships. Based on that

research, if I were to offer one basic piece of advice to followers everywhere,

it would be this: Treat every person who presents himself or herself

to you as a potential leader with the utmost suspicion. Keep alive and well

that small voice in the back of your head that whispers,“Proceed with caution.”

Approach every leader with a healthy dose of skepticism. The politician

who seems so attractive may have your best interest at heart, but

don’t count on it. You are probably dealing with a power-hungry incompetent—

or worse!

The key messages of this book are harsh ones. First, all of us would

like our political leaders to be unfailingly honest, trustworthy, and, most

important, capable. Sadly, most aren’t. Added to the infamous tyrants,

incompetent bureaucrats, shady politicians, corrupt officials, and lackluster

presidents are statistics that flash caution in neon.

In a 2006 Zogby poll, only 3 percent of American voters said they

thought Congress was trustworthy and only 29 percent trusted the

nation’s courts. Three out of four Americans said that trust in their government

had declined over the last five years.2 In a December 2006

Rasmussen Reports survey, only 16 percent of voters thought their government

reflected the will of the people, down from 30 percent in the

1990s.3 And in a 2006 Gallup Poll on honesty and ethics, members of

Congress ranked only a little above car salesmen.4

Governors were the most respected public officials in the Gallup poll,

but they were rated high or very high by only 22 percent of voters, and an

even greater number (26 percent) rated them low or very low on ethics.5

A study examining the personal popularity of presidential candidates

from 1952 to 2000, based on the American National Election Studies survey

data, found a sharp decline in the public’s assessment of the candidates’

overall integrity, reliability, competence, charisma, and appearance.

The researchers noted that the survey results confirmed a general “decline

in the public regard for American leaders’ personal qualifications for the

presidency,” with only half of the candidates since 1972 receiving more

positive than negative ratings. They concluded that “the more Americans

have seen of their top leaders up close and personal, the less they liked

them as individuals.”6 By most estimates 60 to 75 percent of leaders,

regardless of sector, are incompetent or worse.7

A second harsh truth is that we are to blame for the lack of leadership.

To the extent that we choose our leaders by voting for them, signing on to

their cause, joining their groups, contributing to their campaigns, or just

acquiescing to their accumulation of power, we get the quality of leader

we choose. Unfortunately, we give too little attention to the important

task of leader selection. Often we don’t even recognize the bad leader until

it’s too late. Even then, we excuse our choice. How could we have known

that he would turn out to be so corrupt or incompetent?

Followers really determine how successful a

leader will be. —Max De Pree, Leadership Jazz (New

York: Dell, 1992), p. 23.

Most of us do a poor job of following. It is not that we refuse to follow.

In fact, we follow too willingly.We are relatively naïve when it comes

to picking our leaders. We are all too ready to accept and give unquestioning

allegiance to the president, governor, pastor, or other authority figure who

presents herself to us as a leader. Most of us are unaware or

only vaguely aware of the tools, techniques, and general tricks of the leadership

trade.

The typical follower is like the uninformed consumer left defenseless

before the artful persuader. Sellers are taught to sell. Consumers are rarely

taught how to consume intelligently. The same is true of leadership and

followership. Leaders are taught to lead. Followers are rarely taught to follow.

A search in Books In Print for books on leadership turns up thousands

upon thousands. A search for books on following yields very few. Search

for a course on leadership at your local college or university, and you will

find many. Search for a course on followership, and you will probably find

none. The books and courses on followership that do exist make matters

worse by teaching you how to be a “good” follower rather than a savvy,

tough, and questioning one. Given this lack of instruction, it’s little wonder

we are easily taken in by those whose primary goal isn’t our welfare

but access to the power and influence they can use for their own purposes.

This book is intended to change the balance of power between leader

and follower by providing the knowledge base for intelligent following.

Regardless of when or under what conditions you read this book, you

will be called on to make a decision in the not too distant future.Which

leader will you follow? Your choices may be wide or limited. Regardless of

whom you choose, the impact of your decision will matter, not just to you

but to your loved ones, to your community, and to society as a whole.

Many people are working hard right now to orchestrate your choice of

leader. They are employing sophisticated psychological techniques. My

purpose in writing this book is to empower you with the knowledge to

push back against those who would manipulate your choice of leader. This

book is designed to put you in charge of the leader–follower relationship.

It has been said that the best way to avoid being conned is to know

your vulnerability to the con game and the tricks the con artist uses to

sucker you in. Likewise, the best way to avoid bad leaders is to understand

your vulnerability to them and the tricks leaders use to exercise power and

influence over you. This book teaches you those tricks. It shows you how

to protect yourself from incompetent presidents, unsavory politicians,

and bad leaders in general by teaching you how to become an intelligent

follower. In Chapter 1, we start our journey toward intelligent followership

with a simple question that has a complex answer:Why do we follow

leaders?

Before we do, however, let me make one more point. This book is

about intelligent following and what we have to do to get better leaders,

the kind of leaders we deserve. But it is also about something else: liberty.

Benjamin Franklin wrote:

Democracy is two wolves and a small lamb voting

on what to have for dinner. Liberty is a

well-armed lamb contesting the vote.8

When it comes to our leaders, all too often most of us are small lambs.

It is time for us to become well-armed lambs.

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Table of Contents

Contents

Introduction 1

1. The Motivation to Follow 7

2. The Good and Bad Motivation to Lead 15

3. The Dark Side of Leadership 29

4. Leadership Is Acting 47

5. The Mundane Leadership Job of Crafting a Vision 61

6. Evaluating the Leader—The Values Test 85

7. Evaluating the Leader—The Reality Test 107

8. Evaluating the Leader—The Facts Test 135

9. Rhetoric, Propaganda, and Damn Lies 163

10. Inconsistent, Disrespectful, and Skeptical Social

Mavericks Make the Best Followers 189

11.Wishy-Washy Flip-Floppers Make the Best Leaders 207

12. Strategies for Intelligent Leading and Following 223

Notes 233

Bibliography 261

Index 287

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    Voting for Leader of SwiftClan

    Here is where you will vote for the leader of SwiftClan. You can have up to 2 votes. YOU CANNOT VOTE FOR YOURSELF. The cat with the most amount of votes becomes leader, and the second most, deputy.

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