Release Date: September 15, 2015
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The author of Power, Stanford business school professor, and a leading management thinker offers a hard-hitting dissection of the leadership industry and ways to make workplaces and careers work better.
The leadership enterprise is enormous, with billions of dollars, thousands of books, and hundreds of thousands of blogs and talks focused on improving leaders. But what we see worldwide is employee disengagement, high levels of leader turnover and career derailment, and failed leadership development efforts.
In Leadership BS, Jeffrey Pfeffer shines a bright light on the leadership industry, showing why it’s failing and how it might be remade. He sets the record straight on the oft-made prescriptions for leaders to be honest, authentic, and modest, tell the truth, build trust, and take care of others. By calling BS on so many of the stories and myths of leadership, he gives people a more scientific look at the evidence and better information to guide their careers.
Rooted in social science, and will practical examples and advice for improving management, Leadership BS encourages readers to accept the truth and then use facts to change themselves and the world for the better.
“This is an entertaining and inspiring read for anyone looking to shake things up at work.”
“Jeff Pfeffer stands as one of the great management thinkers of our time. Here in this important work, he challenges us to embrace a hippocratic oath of leadership: first do no harm. Diagnostic and prescriptive, passionate and incisive, provocative and inspired-Pfeffer yet again makes a noble contribution.”
—Jim Collins, author Good to Great, co-author Built to Last and Great by Choice
“As bracing as a splash of cold water, Leadership BS is at once a scathing indictment of the ‘leadership industry’ and a roadmap to success. Pfeffer dismantles the jargon-filled aphorisms of conventional leadership, replacing them with fact-based prescriptions for how to succeed.”
—Laszlo Bock, SVP of People Operations, Google and author of New York Times bestseller, Work Rules!
“In this must-read book, Pfeffer exposes the gap between what we’re told we should do to be leaders and what successful leaders actually do to climb the career ladder. Pfeffer’s take-no-prisoners approach to management research and practice always reveals insightful and shocking results.”
—Keith Ferrazzi, author of New York Times bestsellers Never Eat Lunch Alone and Who’s Got Your Back?
“A provocative case that most leadership advice is baloney and the entire industry is broken. Pfeffer convincingly argues that we consistently give the wrong people power-and even when we get it right, authenticity is a recipe for disaster.”
—Adam Grant, Wharton professor and New York Times bestselling author of Give and Take
“I wish I had read Leadership BS years go. It’s not only honest but helpful, putting words to the disconnect I’ve seen between what works and what we’re all “supposed to be” doing. This inconsistency has so much to say about the current state of professional women’s progress.”
—Gina Bianchini, CEO, Mighty Bell and co-founder, Lean In
“Leadership BS goes directly to the soul of leadership practices, exposing both the rewards and penalties of contemporary notions. You’ll be challenged to look at qualities such as narcissism, vulnerability, immodesty and ego and consider why these too are important traits of effective leaders.”
—Curt Coffman, co-author of First, Break all the Rules
“A fascinating inquiry into why the “leadership industry” has failed to develop better leaders. Pfeffer turns conventional wisdom about leadership upside down, and challenges us to rethink why and how leaders behave. It’s an indispensable book for every leader, executive coach, and others who seek to help leaders.”
—Morten T. Hansen, professor, University of California, Berkeley, co-author, Great by Choice
“Pfeffer offers no nostrums, no feel-good solutions; instead, he offers unvarnished insights and dry-eyed suggestions. Anyone who is seriously interested in leadership should read this book.”
—Stephen Kosslyn, founding dean, the Minerva Schools of Arts and Sciences at the Keck Graduate Institute
“Jeff Pfeffer has done it again. He forces us to confront uncomfortable questions about ourselves and our cultures. This book reminds us of the dangers of pursuing comforting messages instead of practical truths.”
—Kent Thiry, CEO, Davita Healthcare Partners
“Leadership BS persuasively attacks the simplistic, glib generalities that masquerade as leadership analysis and advice. Pfeffer offers many examples of when such advice can actually hurt leaders and their effectiveness. By turning some of our assumptions concerning authenticity, trust, and humility on their head, this book is essential reading for anyone who would rather rely on scientific evidence than merely on cool stories.”
—Sim B Sitkin, Duke University, Faculty Director, Fuqua/Coach K Center on Leadership and Ethics
“In this wonderful Book, Jeff Pfeffer takes on sacred cows and conventional wisdom, showing us a different path to the leadership excellence we all desire yet find so elusive. It should be required reading in every business school.”
—Herminia Ibarra, The Cora Chaired Professor of Leadership and Learning, INSEAD
“Challenges conventional thinking and traditional bromides, underscoring the importance of being evidence-based if you want to make an impact in developing leadership.”
—Barry Z. Posner, PhD, Accolti Endowed Professor of Leadership, Santa Clara University, co-author, The Leadership Challenge
“Pfeffer shatters the self-interested myth-making of the leadership industry consultant and the romantic ideologies of the high priests of the leadership religion. Anchored in research and concrete public case histories of leaders, revealing the uncomfortable hard truths about power, impact, success, and uncovering the often buried moral paradoxes.”
—Jeffrey A. Sonnenfeld, senior associate dean for leadership studies, Lester Crown Professor of Leadership Practice, author of The Hero’s Farewell
“Pfeffer explores what is most typically a feel-good field with the tools of a statistician and ferocious tenacity. Preferring evidence over anecdote, Pfeffer exposes bold truths, even when they are inconvenient. It turns out the meek often do not inherit the earth, or much else, for that matter.”
—Strauss Zelnick, partner at ZMC, chairman of Take-Two Interactive Software
“Pfeffer provides detailed and systematic evidence for how far apart the rhetoric and the reality are in the world of leadership. This hard-hitting book may not give you a warm, fuzzy feeling about leadership, but it offers practical advice for coping with the realities of work in today’s organisations.”
—Julian Birkinshaw, professor of strategy and entrepreneurship, London Business School, author of Becoming a Good Boss
“Jeff Pfeffer’s writing is the apotheosis of challenge and there is much to be challenged and changed in what Pfeffer characterizes as ‘the leadership industry’. This accessible and yet scholarly book will irritate some, inform others and challenge us all. But why the unclassy title for a book with such profound and practical messages?”
—Andrew Pettigrew, professor of strategy and organisation and Senior Golding Fellow, Brasenose College