Random Summer Reading Post #1: Some Interesting Stuff On Leadership

Found these last week. Thought some people might find them thought provoking.

Joel Stein writes in the Harvard Business Review:

after spending time with a range of leaders for my new book, Man Made: A Stupid Quest for Masculinity, I learned that my vision of what makes a good leader was all wrong. I spent hours working alongside fire chiefs, army captains, Boy Scout troop leaders, and others who guide teams. To my surprise, the best of them tended to be quiet listeners who let other people make most of the decisions. They weren’t particularly charismatic. Or funny. They weren’t the toughest guys in the pack. They didn’t have a Clintonian need to be liked, or a Patton-like intensity. They were, on the whole, a little boring.

The topic is also developed a bit in this piece from The Globe and Mail:

Not long ago a study by Stephen Kaplan from the Chicago Booth School of Business showed good chief executive officers tend to be dull. They are dogged, efficient, good at detail and happy to work round the clock. Last week, the same point was made by the writer Joel Stein in a blog for the Harvard Business Review (HBR), in which he argued that boringness was the secret to great leadership.

Despite the fact that Prof. Kaplan and Mr. Stein are evidently on to something rather big, many HBR readers responded to the latter’s article with hostility: They simply couldn’t accept the idea that good leaders are bores.

But my favorite-est part of either is at the end of the Globe and Mail piece:

So what can people do who have had the severe misfortune to have been born interesting? They can try publishing, of course, if there are any jobs left. Or they can teach, or write, or direct films, or become poets and philosophers. Better still, they can marry a successful bore to bankroll their unremunerative activities, or if all else fails, they can curl up in a corner and read far too many books ever to count.

Guilty as charged on all counts!

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