Episode #158: On Healing Leadership

This episode is dedicated to the possibility that the majority of leadership thinking is wrong as it is ultimate based on manipulation - trying to “get someone to do something.” Coming to terms with this idea is difficult and not for everyone because it requires us to examine some of our most deeply held beliefs and either dismiss them or at least think differently about them. If you are interested in hearing a conversation about healing leadership, you are invited to listen to this episode with Ron Baker and Ed Kless. 

This material is based on the work of Howard Hansen and Steve Geske, who have appeared previously on The Soul of Enterprise - Episode # 11.

For more visit the Healing Leaders website


Ron's Notes on Leadership BS

Most conventional wisdom on leadership offers more hope than reality; wishes rather than data; beliefs instead of science; and is filled with fables, not facts.

He calls it “lay preaching,” like religion it offers a false sense of control.

Leaders fail with unacceptable frequency, and the leadership industry has failed in its 40-year history to improve the human condition.

Most people look for an “inspiring leadership course,” yet how manymedical schools advertise as “inspiring?” Inspiration does not produce change.

 Leadership industry obsessively focused on the normative—what leaders should do and how things out to be—whiling ignoring what is true, and what is going on, and why.

 Pfeffer debunks the five Leadership Attributes

  1. Modesty—this is rare among most leaders; most are narcissists
  2. Authenticity—not true to themselves, rather true to what the situation calls for (in sports, “play through the pain”). Anthony Weiner was authentic! Nelson Mandela, Martin Luther King, Jr. inauthentic? Who cares? True to which self? We are constantly changing.
  3. Truthfulness—leaders frequently lie and face few consequences
  4. Trustworthiness—notable mostly by its absence.
  5. Concern for welfare of others—Officers eat after enlisted men. Yet CEOs earn 330x the pay of average worker, receive severance packages when they screw up, which is certainly not taking care of others first.

It is more helpful to understand why and how people who don’t have the above attributes reached such powerful positions.

His recommendations for improving leadership

  1. Measure and hold people accountable—what gets inspected gets affected (he admits that measuring the wrong things is worse than measuring nothing; e.g., student evaluations ≠ learning)
  2. Acknowledge the different interests of leaders and their companies (align career success with organizational success)
  3. Use more scientific methods and worry about credentials

Did You Pray?

The Book That Started It All


Ed Kless

Ed Kless joined Sage in July of 2003 and is currently the senior director of partner development and strategy. He develops and delivers curriculum for Sage business partners on the art and practice of small business consulting. Courses include: Sage Consulting Academy, Business Strategy and Customer Experience Workshops. Ed is the author of The Soul of Enterprise: Dialogues on Business in the Knowledge Economy, a compendium of a few of the episodes of his VoiceAmerica talk-show The Soul of Enterprise: Business in the Knowledge Economy with Ron Baker, founder of the VeraSage Institute where Ed is also a senior fellow.