• Ronald J. Fichera

Getting beyond the BS of leadership literature


Management books and commentaries often oversimplify, seldom providing useful guidance about the skills and behavior needed to get things done. Here’s a better reading list for leaders.

The almost insatiable demand for leadership studies is a natural outgrowth of the all-too-frequent leadership failures in government, business, and nonprofits. Few people trust their leaders, according to the Edelman Trust Barometer surveys, among others.

Gallup data show low levels of employee engagement worldwide, while the Conference Board finds job satisfaction at a low ebb and executive tenures decreasing.

Other research consistently indicates that companies give their own leadership-development efforts low marks. Leaders aren’t doing a good job for themselves or their workplaces, and things don’t seem to be improving.This consuming interest in leadership and how to make it better has spawned a plethora of books, blogs, TED talks, and commentary. Unfortunately, these materials are often wonderfully disconnected from organizational reality and, as a consequence, useless for sparking improvement. Maybe that’s one reason the enormous resources invested in leadership development have produced so few results. Estimates of the amount spent on it range from $14 billion to $50 billion a year in the United States alone.

The limits of morality tales

Despite the many shortcomings of leadership instruction, some books and articles do provide fruitful guidance on how to be a better, more effective leader. And there’s scattered information about what skills and behavior are needed to get things done and how to develop them. Sadly, and for a number of reasons, there’s a scarcity of useful material. Here’s why.

~ From McKinsey Magazine

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