Daniel Silvert's Reviews > Leadership and Self-Deception: Getting Out of the Box

Leadership and Self-Deception by The Arbinger Institute
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Jul 12, 2011

it was amazing

Leadership and Self Deception is a business fable that features a talented executive whose business successes are marred by an inability to recognize how his aggressive behavior and single minded focus has negatively impacted not only his colleagues, but his family life.

I will admit up front that had I not been on a long trip with nothing else to read, I probably wouldn’t have gotten past the first 20 pages or so. The fable’s opening lacks flow and features heavy handed scenes of the main character mistreating just about everyone in his life while blaming them for it. However, once our hero, Tom, begins his coaching sessions with a senior executive at the firm, Bud, the insights start coming fast and they do not let up.
Through a process of inquiry and story telling, Bud challenges Tom to think about whether his perceptions of others stem from being ‘in the box,’ – seeing the world through a lens of self-interest, or ‘out of the box,’ seeing the world as it is, filled with people who have the same wants, needs, fears, and hopes that Tom does. To understand what it means to be ‘in the box,’ Bud uses a personal example of having to take care of his infant son at 4:00am one night. Should he get up, or should his wife? By tracing his thoughts - literally one at a time – Bud demonstrates how easy it is to perceive the situation through self interest, where Bud inflates his own virtues while simultaneously deflating his wife’s. While in the box, holding oneself accountable is nearly impossible.

The insights gleaned from this example alone is worth the price and time of this book. By the fable’s end, I found myself very glad there were no other books to turn to on that trip. Leadership and Self Deception is a gem.
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