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Now more than ever, people everywhere are seeking direction and guidance from effective leaders at every level of society. However, many of today’s so-called leaders seem to be trapped: they can’t lead no matter how hard they try to, and no matter what skills and techniques they employ.  As we have all seen, these leaders are constantly self-justifying their actions, even tricking themselves into thinking that they’re doing the right things for the right reasons.  In this way, those who are trapped “in the box” always seem to defeat their own efforts. It never occurs to them that maybe the key to leadership isn’t in what they do, but who they are.

Leadership and Self-Deception: Getting Out of the Box is the first book of its kind to identify a single cause at the heart of leadership problems, one that lies beneath issues of behavior or skill or technique.  The problem is Self-Deception.  How this insidious process of self-deception works, the damage it causes to our professional and personal relationships, and how to beat it and “get out of the box”, is the subject of the bestseller, Leadership and Self-Deception, from the Arbinger Institute and Berrett-Koehler Publishers.

Since the first edition came out in 2000, Leadership and Self-Deception has sold over 200,000 copies, largely through word of mouth. It’s been sold in the thousands to large corporations like Microsoft, and in the dozens to individuals who have handed it out to family and friends. Sales continue to be strong today, and the book is regularly in the top 20 bestselling paperback backlist business books across the country.  And, Leadership and Self-Deception most recently was listed as #8 on the BusinessWeek bestseller list!

Using the story/parable format so popular these days, Leadership and Self-Deception takes a novel psychological approach to leadership. It's not what you do that matters, say the authors, but why you do it. Latching onto the latest leadership trend won't make people follow you if your motives are selfish—people can smell a rat, even one that says that they're trying to empower them.

The tricky thing is that we don't know that our motivations are flawed. We deceive ourselves in subtle ways into thinking that we're doing the right thing for the right reason, even though we’re really just serving our own narrow self-interest. We really do know what the right thing to do is, but this constant cycle of self-justification becomes such an ingrained habit that it's hard to break free of it—it's as though we're trapped in a box, the authors say.

Learning how the process of self-deception works—and how to avoid it and stay in touch with our innate sense of what is right—is at the heart of the book. In the book, we follow Tom, an old-school, by-the-book kind of guy who is a newly hired executive at Zagrum Corporation, as two senior executives show him the many ways that he is "in the box," how that limits him as a leader in ways he's not even aware of, and of course how to get out.

In spite of the title, this is as much a book about personal transformation as it is about leadership. The authors use examples from the characters' private as well as professional lives to show how self-deception skews our view of ourselves and the world and ruins our interactions with people, despite what we sincerely believe are our best intentions. It is, ultimately, a hopeful, even inspiring book that has already transformed thousands of lives.

"It is a truly remarkable book. It is stunning in its provocation. And it’s a message delightfully delivered.”
—Tim J. McGuire, Columnist, "More Than Work"

“Engaging and fresh, easy to read, and packed with insight. I couldn’t recommend it more highly.”
—Stephen R. Covey, author of The Seven Habits of Highly Successful People

“I shared the ideas in this book with my family and friends. The concepts are powerful. They are fundamental to success, whether on the playing field, in the office, or perhaps most importantly, at home. Read this book and you’ll see what I mean.”
—Steve Young, former San Francisco 49ers quarterback and two-time NFL Most Valuable Player

THE ARBINGER INSTITUTE is a management training and consulting firm and scholarly consortium that includes people trained in business, law, economics, philosophy, the family, education, and psychology. Together, the members of Arbinger work to apply the sweeping implications of self-deception and its solution to all aspects of organizational, community, and family life. Arbinger has worked with leaders from major corporations such as Microsoft, LensCrafters, Raytheon, 3M, Bain Capital, AT&T, Cornell University, and the U.S. Navy.

Published by Berrett-Koehler Publishers, Inc
ISBN: 1-57675-174-0, paperback, $14.95

To request a review copy or schedule an interview, please contact our PR department:

Ken Lupoff
Sr. Publicity Manager
Tiffany Lee
Publicity Associate


Copyrigtht 2005, Berrett-Koehler Publishers. All Rights Reserved.