The Executive and the Elephant: A Leader's Guide for Building Inner Excellence
August 2010, Jossey-Bass
Lessons for leaders on resolving the ongoing struggle between instinct and the creative mind
Kings, heads of government, and corporate executives lead thousands of people and manage endless resources, but may not have mastery over themselves. Often leaders know that right action is important, but have little (if any) understanding of what prevents them from acting in accordance with their intentions. In this important book, leadership expert Richard Daft portrays this dilemma as a struggle between instinct (elephant) and intention (the executive) using the most current research on the intentional vs. the habitual mind to explain how this phenomenon occurs.
- Based on current research and real-life examples
- Offers leaders a method for directing themselves more productively
- Written by an expert in leadership, organizational performance, and change management
Through real-life examples and recent studies in psychology, management and Eastern spirituality Daft provides guidance to all of us who struggle finding our own balance and cultivating the behavior of others.
Part One The Two Selves.
1. The Problem of Managing Yourself.
The Conflict Between Knowing and Doing.
The Universal Failure of Willpower.
The Divided Self: Executive and Elephant.
Learning to Lead from Your Inner Executive.
Purpose of This Book.
2. Recognize Your Two Selves.
Levels of Consciousness.
Two Voices Within.
Why Your Mind Is Filled with Automatic Thoughts.
Unfocused Elephant Mind Versus Focused Executive Presence.
Small Box Versus Large Mind.
Part Two Ways You May Mislead or Delude Yourself.
3. Three Tendencies That Distort Your Reality.
Your Internal Judge.
Your Internal Magician.
Your Internal Attorney.
4. Every Leader's Six Mental Mistakes.
Reacting Too Quickly.
Emotional Avoidance and Attraction.
Exaggerating the Future.
Chasing the Wrong Gratifications.
Part Three How to Start Leading Yourself.
5. Engage Your Intention.
Visualize Your Intention.
Verbalize Your Intention.
6. Follow Through on Your Intentions.
Write Down Your Intentions.
Design Tangible Mechanisms.
7. Calm Down to Speed Up.
Let It Happen.
Sit by Your Problem.
Relax Your Body.
Calm Your Elephant by Acting the Part or Making a Gentle Request.
8. Slow Down to Stop Your Reactions.
Stop and Think.
Detach from your Emotions and Impulses.
Just Say No.
Part Four Become Aware of Your Inner Resources.
9. Get to Know Your Inner Elephant.
Take Advantage of a Setback.
10. Expand Your Awareness.
Review the Day.
Part Five Reach for the Heights.
11. Sharpen Your Concentration.
Focus Your Attention.
Focus on Means, Not Ends.
Slow Down, Look, and Listen.
Focus on People.
12. Develop Your Witness.
Turn Inward to Develop Your Witness.
Use Radical Self-Inquiry.
Who Am I?
13. Reprogram Yourself.
Repeat a Mantra.
Prayer May Help, but Not the Way You Think.
14. Mend Your Mind with Meditation.
An Easy Way to Start.
Try Visual Rather Than Verbal.
Part Six Can You Lead from a People Frame of Reference?
15. Change Your Frame to See People.
What Is Your Frame?
From Leading Objects to Leading Humans.
How to Change Your Frame.
16. Change Your Frame to Ask Questions.
From Answering Questions to Asking Questions.
In All Things, Consult.
17. Living and Leading from Your Inner Executive.
Higher Consciousness Revisited.
When Her Mind Went Quiet.
Answers to Individual Questions.
RICHARD L. DAFT holds the Brownlee O. Currey, Jr. Chair in the Owen Graduate School of Management, Vanderbilt University, where he specializes in the study and teaching of leadership. Professor Daft is the author or co-author of thirteen books, including his best selling texts, and dozens of scholarly articles. He has consulted and lectured widely and practices this book's concepts in his work and personal life. Write to firstname.lastname@example.org.
“I put off writing my monthly report until the last day every time.”
“I always point out people’s faults and failures. I am trying to help people, but they do not appreciate it.”
“Something will tick me off and I will react.”
Have you ever had a clear intention then failed to follow through? All managers and employees know what they should be doing, how to do it, and why they should do it. We know or can figure out the correct thing to do, yet often we do not act accordingly. It seems to be a puzzle that our intention and behavior often refuse to align. That puzzle is the focus of: The Executive and the Elephant: A Leaders’ Guide to Building Inner Excellence (Jossey-Bass; 978-0-470-37226-5; August 2010) by Richard Daft.
Professor Richard Daft has written this book to help people understand this struggle and direct themselves more productively. He has spent several years studying the psychological and management research findings about the intentional vs. the habitual mind and posits the dilemma as a struggle between instinct (as embodied by the “elephant”) and the create mind (as embodied by the “executive”). Ins this book Daft draws on research from psychology, social psychology, management, Eastern spirituality, dozens of great examples from manager in his classes and from his consulting experiences, and his own experience. Daft aims to address the problems managers face and provide realistic solutions to both their personal struggles as well as ways managers can help managers the intentions of others, that is, how to trigger right behavior from other instead of making things worse.
The Executive and Elephant is ideal not only for managers, but for executives, professors and students alike. The absence of inner struggle – one part wanting to do one thing, the other part the opposite, is a feeling of freedom. It will give the readers a similar feeling of peace and self-control. As readers learn to master the practices themselves, they can become a master leader of other people.
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