This isn't just one of those self-improvement books. It asks us to dig deeply into our own feelings about people and situations. Reading this with an open mind will ask some hard questions that need answers.


Leadership and Self-Deception

The Arbinger Institute

I can’t really tell you what this book is about: the book itself will have to do that. Let me tell you what the book made me think about.

It made me think about the times when I have handled a situation badly, had interactions with people where I was trying to lead but somehow stepped on my own foot – or tongue? – and failed to make the situation better. Often I have made the situation worse, though fortunately people of good will often recover from such things.

The premise of the book is that we mess these things up, not from a lack of skill or “technique” but because we are deceiving ourselves about what’s going on, always in the same way. That may sound overly simplistic: could all these different problems really be due to a common cause? Still, I found the ideas to be quite compelling and certainly thought-provoking. Often I could look back on situations and see clearly that in at least that case, the book had me pegged perfectly.

The book is like a short novel or narration, about a new employee, Tom, and his interactions with his boss and others, talking about the company’s foundation for success, the recognition and elimination of self-betrayal and self-deception. It’s a very easy read, and if you let it, it will make you think. It’s not all smarmy slimy like some self-help things, nor is it cheerfully impractical like others. Still, it is offering some challenging ideas that deserve consideration.

You can check the Arbinger Institute Web site for more information and a look at a few chapters. The book has my very real recommendation. Thanks to Mark Graybill for calling it to my attention.