Leadership and Self-Deception: Getting Out of the Box

by The Arbinger Institute

Our Main Take-Away:

What’s your mind telling you? Are you giving yourself a true story or protecting ego? As a team, we recommend this book to all our coaching clients. It’s a quick read, particularly since it’s written as a story and it gets into an important aspect of leadership in today’s world: The bar is being raised when it comes to our individual development and awareness. The people who do the work on Leading-Self are going to be the bosses that people want to work for in the workplace

Reasons to Read:

Whether we like to admit it, every organization is in the relationship business. The truth is, every organization is run by human beings, and all human beings have needs, wants, desires and egos to defend. And in the course of business, we are often not aware of how those deeper, ego-based psychological drives end up distorting our reality and generating behavior that really doesn’t work. Leadership & Self Deception emphasizes that many problems we face internally in our organizations (conflict among team members or silos, nasty bosses, ineffective performance, etc.) can actually be traced back to basic defense mechanisms in all of us.

We all know the human mind can be a scary place sometimes, but that is even truer when we add some pressure and responsibility. There is one human need that the book focuses on. The human need we each have to portray ourselves in a positive light. We all deeply want to see ourselves as a good team member, a good boss, a good team-mate, and even a good parent, or a good spouse. And there’s nothing wrong with a little positive self-esteem, but when things get tough or stressful, you’d be amazed at how quickly our brains paint a picture of the “other” in the situation as less-than (selfish, overbearing, micromanaging, lazy, biased, out of touch, too negative, too positive, etc.). It happens quickly, and almost sub-consciously. But doing so allows us to meet that psychological need of being good and right.

One of my favorite examples in the book is ‘the feeding the baby at night’ and the mind games we parents play. It stuck home. I wish I had ready this bool early in the raising 4-kid process. Let’s just say it boils down to who thinks is working harder. The baby examples are moments with one of your closest partners, but when this dynamic starts playing out at work, it can have real negative effects too.

The book itself is written as a story about a company that outperforms its competitors specifically because every employee is coached in this dynamic. It enables everyone to focus on results and hold each other accountable, but without the defensiveness, posturing, and water-cooler gossiping that usually goes along with it.

Grab a copy of this book today. Your leadership journey will be forever thankful.

Amazon Summary:

This third edition of an international bestseller–over 2 million copies sold worldwide and translated into 33 languages–details how its powerful insights on motivation, conflict, and collaboration can benefit organizations as well as individuals.

Since its original publication in 2000, Leadership and Self-Deception has become an international word-of-mouth phenomenon. Rather than tapering off, it sells more copies every year. The book’s central insight–that the key to leadership lies not in what we do but in who we are–has proven to have powerful implications not only for organizational leadership but in readers’ personal lives as well.

Leadership and Self-Deception uses an entertaining story everyone can relate to about a man facing challenges at work and at home to expose the fascinating ways that we blind ourselves to our true motivations and unwittingly sabotage the effectiveness of our own efforts to achieve happiness and increase happiness. We trap ourselves in a “box” of endless self-justification. Most importantly, the book shows us the way out. Readers will discover what millions already have learned–how to consistently tap into and act on their innate sense of what’s right, dramatically improving all of their relationships.

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