Reading List: Leadership BS

UPDATED: October 24, 2015
PUBLISHED: September 12, 2015

In this spirited, provocative work, Stanford Business School professor Jeffrey Pfeffer challenges prevailing conventional wisdom about leadership development. In Pfeffer’s view, many well-intentioned popular philosophies—those that champion traits such as humility, honesty and authenticity, for example—take an overly simplistic, unrealistic approach.

Pfeffer contends that while all those traits are admirable, honesty isn’t always the best policy, humility isn’t always desirable, and authenticity is overvalued. In addition, there’s no scientific evidence to prove the effectiveness and efficacy of those leadership traits and styles on a company’s success. Pfeffer notes that a Google Scholar search for “leadership” returns more than 2 million entries; a search for “proportion of authentic leaders” (and variations thereof) yields zero results.

Pfeffer’s contrarian views are original and well worth considering. Agree or not, Leadership BS—as Pfeffer promises—will make you rethink and reorient your beliefs and behavior related to leadership.

By Jeffrey Pfeffer
(September; HarperBusiness; $29.99)