Summary of Twisted Leadership

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In many organizations, leadership has become a snarled-up mess. Prescriptions for improving leadership often rely on outdated common wisdom and the paradigm of layers of centralized autocrats. To overcome this “leadership disease,” say business professors Charles C. Manz and Craig L. Pearce, your company should move beyond conventional tactics and embrace “twisted leadership.” This strategy regards leadership as a “complex social process” that unites “self-leadership, SuperLeadership, shared leadership and socially responsible leadership.” Manz and Pearce advocate flexible managerial assignments and shared power. Although the authors indulge in jargon, their book is reader-friendly. It includes helpful charts, diagrams and illustrations as well as workbook pages at the end of each chapter for writing about the lessons you’ve learned. getAbstract recommends this not-so-twisted approach to executives seeking a fresh look at the issues inherent in leadership.

About the Authors

Charles C. Manz, PhD, is the Nirenberg Chaired Professor of Leadership at the Isenberg School of Management at the University of Massachusetts. Craig L. Pearce, PhD, is the Ben May Distinguished Professor at the Mitchell College of Business at the University of South Alabama.   



Leadership in a Tangle

Traditional hierarchical, centralized leadership creates organizational quagmires. Most suggestions for improving or replacing it come from so-called thought leaders who lack sufficient grounding in the discipline of leadership. Often, senior executives believe that becoming leaders makes them instantly smarter than their colleagues. Because of their position, they believe their ideas and intentions should take precedence over everyone else’s.

Over time, employees come to see these executives’ true character as bosses rather than as leaders. At that point, these executives – the embodiment of autocratic “leadership disease” – often move on to afflict new organizations. The typical business school curriculum helps these patterns recur. Professors teach their students how much influence those in authority wield over those below them. Many academics support “agency theory,” a paradigm suggesting that most people abuse whatever privileges they enjoy. As a result, people in authority feel they must keep a tight rein on their subordinates.

Other leadership theories – “transactional, transformational, visionary” and “charismatic...

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