Here is the thesis
As I mentioned in my last blog, I am thinking of a new book. I want to share the thesis of this now book because I want to find interesting case studies and examples and I would love your help in identifying them.
Essentially the idea is that the reason we so often end up with narcissists as leaders is partly because as a society we are addicted to heroes. You can see it as far back as ancient Greece, Rome and Norse gods, who were essentially the heroes who would come and save us.
Most religions, including the monotheistic ones, build on this with the idea of a saviour and today fiction, especially children’s fiction, is packed with heroes who will come and save us.
The implication of allowing heroes to take responsibility for saving us is that we don’t have to do it ourselves.
The other part of this that narcissists will nearly always step up to lead before a more authentic and humble leader, because they have an inflated and often unrealistic idea of their own capabilities. Narcissists as leaders are exciting, they can get a great deal done, they take responsibility away from others and they are ultimately flawed, because their agenda is essentially themselves and they are unable to admit their mistakes and therefore to learn.
More humble and potentially far better leaders, frequently actively step back to allow a narcissist to lead and most frustratingly of all, when a humble leader does step up, they are often treated like narcissists anyway and risk buying in to the narcissistic/hero leadership stereotype.
The consequences of our addiction to narcissist/hero leaders surround us and include virtually all of the main challenges we face as a society.
The solution is a seismic shift in our ideas of leadership and an acceptance of our own responsibility and leadership. Specifically the way that we select, elect and promote leaders in business, politics and other institutions of our society needs to move away from choosing based on those who believe that they can do the job. Our democratic process is almost designed to favour thick skinned, self promoting narcissists with unrealistic self belief over the humble and enquiring who want to build and empower a truly effective team to do the job.
We need to begin teaching great leadership skills to kids at school and at university. So that young people learn to self knowledge and how to appreciate the strengths and weaknesses of others, how to assemble an effective and appropriate team, how to coach and empower team mates and how to inspire and align their colleagues around a project, a set of values and an ethos.
The difficulty with finding the case studies is precisely that humble leaders are humble and therefore they don’t often stand out and are much harder to identify as being revolutionary. Therefore, I am asking for your help in identifying leaders and cultures that are humble, authentic and revolutionary. I am interested in any organisational culture, so it could be business or sports or in the public sector. If you know of such an organisation or a piece of research please share it with me and I will do my best to do justice to this important message.
Thank you so much.
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