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Why Are We Bad at Picking Good Leaders? A Better Way to Evaluate Leadership Potential

ISBN: 978-0-470-60194-5
288 pages
May 2011, Jossey-Bass
Why Are We Bad at Picking Good Leaders? A Better Way to Evaluate Leadership Potential (0470601949) cover image


Silver Medal Winner, Business and Leadership, 2012 Nautilus Book Awards

Almost 70% of Americans believe that we are suffering from a crisis of leadership, but rather than asking, why are leaders failing, we need to ask, "Why aren't we choosing better leaders?"

Ever wonder what goes on behind closed board room doors when organizations pick their top leaders? It can be a contentious, secretive, even brutal process. Most of our leaders look good on paper—they have charisma, credentials, and confidence—yet they lack the real qualities that are necessary to succeed. In Why Are We Bad at Picking Good Leaders?, Cohn and Moran share the same insights and ideas they use to help organizations make better choices. Revealing seven essential attributes of all great leaders, they offer a fresh and powerful evaluation technique anyone can use to assess leader potential.

Through dynamic, first-hand accounts from the business world, entertainment, sports, politics, education, and philanthropy, the authors offer the ultimate insider access and reveal how top organizations find and choose the best talent.

  • Offers multiple ways to evaluate leaders, and how these 7 leadership attributes combine to create the best (and worst) in leaders
  • Features interviews with with Mike Krzyzewski, Coach, 2008 US Men's Olympic Basketball team, Jeff Bezos, CEO of Amazon; George Steinbrenner, Scott Davis, CEO of UPS; Peter Loscher, CEO of Siemens; Toby Cosgrove, CEO, Cleveland Clinic; Hollywood movie directors, and many others
  • Includes academic study and field training at institutions such as Harvard, Yale, INSEAD, and IMD for developing future leaders.

Fresh and compelling, Why Are We Bad at Picking Good Leaders? shows how great leaders can be spotted and why they succeed – and is soon to the definitive resource guide for about choosing better leaders.

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Table of Contents

Introduction 1

1 Integrity 15

2 Empathy 41

3 Emotional Intelligence 65

4 Vision 93

5 Judgment 117

6 Courage 147

7 Passion 173

8 A Better Way to Choose Leaders 199

Appendix A: Commonly Used (and Misused) Leadership Terms 225

Appendix B: The DNA of Leadership Competencies 239

Notes 243

Acknowledgments 261

About the Authors 267

Index 269

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Author Information

Jeffrey Cohn is a succession planning and executive assessment expert. Previously, Cohn was with Spencer Stuart, a top executive recruiting firm; a research fellow at the Harvard Business School; and at the Chief Executive Leadership Institute (Yale). Cohn has published widely, including multiple articles for the Harvard Business Review. He lives in New York City.

Jay Moran is a succession planning expert, executive coach, and professor of leadership. Moran was formerly at the CEO Leadership Institute at Yale and practiced corporate law with King & Spalding. Moran has a JD/MBA from Emory University and MPA from Harvard University. He lives in Barcelona.
For more information, please visit www.liag-advisors.com

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Press Release

May 17, 2011
Why Are We Bad at Picking Good Leaders?: A Better Way to Evaluate Leadership Potential

San Francisco, CA – How often have you said or heard the following?

  • “Our president is doing a terrible job.”
  • “Those guys on Wall Street ruined our economy.”
  • “Corporate leaders only care about stuffing their own pockets.”
  • “I wish I worked for a better boss.”

Let’s face it – we are lousy at picking good leaders. Time and time again we bemoan the men and women who run our organizations, companies and governments. Why does this happen?

Why Are We Bad at Picking Good Leaders? A Better Way to Evaluate Leadership Potential (Jossey-Bass; 978-0-470-60194-5; May 2011) by Jeffrey Cohn and Jay Moran will help those who struggle with understanding "leadership." Through the authors’ unique expert perspective and entertaining approach, readers will gain the ultimate insider access into what organizations really look for, and how they evaluate it.

Based on the authors’ decades of experience working with CEOs, Fortune 500 board members and other top organizational leaders, WHY ARE WE BAD AT PICKING GOOD LEADERS? offers a unique, comprehensive framework, which lays out eight key attributes in which all great leaders must demonstrate strength: integrity, empathy, emotional intelligence, passion, judgment, courage and vision. While many top managers and aspiring executives excel in one or several of these areas, great, lasting leaders have an integrated approach to all. WHY ARE WE BAD AT PICKING GOOD LEADERS? incorporates exciting, first-hand stories take from the real leadership challenges of some of today’s most recognizable names: people like Duke basketball coach Mike Kryzewski, Bono’s RED campaign, Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos, and Hollywood directly Ruben Fleischer, as well as dozens more. Their stories bring the attributes to life and will help readers understand what words like “empathy” and “authenticity” or “passion” mean in the context of effective leadership.

The overall result is an entertaining read that explains leadership in a fresh and original way, one that offers the unique, insider access to closed conference rooms in top corporations; the thoughtful knowledge of the world's top academics and thought leaders, and the entertaining stories of celebrities from all areas of business, sports, and entertainment. This is a comprehensive look at how to find, create, and recognize great leaders.

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