Jeffrey Pfeffer – the Thomas D. Dee II Professor of Organizational Behavior at the Stanford Graduate School of Business and author or co-author of 14 books – numbers among the world’s foremost management experts. With credentials like that, you might not expect Pfeffer to be a hilarious, cynical, hardnosed debunker of management-expert nonsense. From his first paragraph, however, Pfeffer stakes his ground in no uncertain terms. “Myths and inspiring stories,” he says, have no value for generating real change. Widely held notions of leadership derive mostly from wishing they were so and not from empirical data. Pfeffer impatiently rejects the current vogue in claiming that the best leaders are the most compassionate. He holds that “selfish and self-interested” leaders are no greater obstacles to fostering a productive workplace than the fantasy that “reciprocity, generosity and selflessness” need be part of work in the first place. The most valuable skill great leaders have, Pfeffer argues, is a genius for creating their “own version of reality,” as exemplified by Steve Jobs. His leadership brilliance manifested in his ability to convince talented, sought-after employees that working at Apple was a higher calling than any other. Pfeffer dispassionately dissects how narcissism helps leaders attain their goals, and cites famous narcissists – Jobs, Bill Gates, Jack Welch, Michael Eisner and David Geffen among them – as proof. Such leaders share a pivotal quality: an unshakeable belief in their own “special or unique status.” Today’s business students, studies say, are the most narcissistic in history. This, Pfeffer believes, will only help their careers. He likes bald assertions and very, very long sentences. Unlike 99% of other leadership writers, Pfeffer wastes no time over-explaining the links between the data he presents and the conclusions it suggests. He also has no patience for self-delusion, hogwash masquerading as common knowledge or unintelligent readers. getAbstract recommends his insightful, unsentimental appraisal of the dark underbelly of leadership as a masterwork in its field.
About the Author
Jeffrey Pfeffer is the Thomas D. Dee II Professor of Organizational Behavior at the Stanford Graduate School of Business. His other books include The Human Explanation: Building Profits by Putting People First; Organizations and Organization Theory; and Managing with Power.
Comment on this recommendation
10 months agoThat is an excellent piece of work. Managers should read more of these books than "wishful-thinking" literature.