Sometimes We Wear Masks While Leading Others

Leaders who care about their professional development read books.

Oh sure, they also spend time with people who challenge them, learn new and exciting insights and ideas, seek growth experiences, and so on.

But leaders read. The question is “What do we read?”

The bookstores and online sites are chock-full of leadership-related titles and new ones appear every month, and each claims to be the one that will change your life as a leader and often, as a person.

With that, I recently revisited an older and classic leadership growth work. Leadership & Self-Deception, published originally in 2000 and reissued in 2010, continues to be much discussed and recommended as a primary work for leaders and leadership today.

If you care about your ability to effectively lead others, this book is for you; a deceptively easy and short read, but with a potential impact that could literally change your world.

"Self-deception actually determines one’s experience in every aspect of life."

Thumbnail Of The Concept

The book tells a narrative story of a leader who learns some very important lessons about how to interact with others in a more personal and effective way.

We engage in self-deception, also known as self-betrayal, when we fail to act on our positive impulses toward others, and then use various thinking processes to both justify our own inactions and to make other seem less deserving of our help.

This process works for most of us most of the time in our professional and personal lives. We are in the box, as the title says.

Self-betrayal is therefore "an act contrary to what I feel I should do for another" and which therefore leads me to "see the world in a way that justifies my self-betrayal", a vicious cycle that becomes easier to travel with each episode. The biggest problem was that I couldn’t see that I had a problem.

I would share how to get out of the box, but if you have read Leadership & Self-Deception, you already know how to do so and if you have not yet read the book, well, you need to. This book will move you from being a self-deceiving person to one who is self-aware.

Three specific things About Self-Aware Leaders

Leaders Know Your Name - The Self-Aware (SA) person who knows your name holds a great deal of relational power. This small, but important act indicates that they recognize you as a person and have taken the time to learn about you. Learning about someone on a personal level is one of the most effective weapons against stereotyping, prejudice, and discrimination available to us. Simply put, when you know another’s name, you start to see them in a different way.

Leaders Are Authentic & Care - They not only have impulses to help others, but they follow through on those impulses. A self-aware leader acts on their positive impulses, rather than falling into the box and making excuses or hollow rationalizations. Self-aware leaders provide the energy and inspiration to help others do good in our world.

Leaders Share What They Know - The premise of the book is that our hero leader learns to identify and derail his tendency to go into the box through a series of interactions with two other leaders, who have traveled the same road and are distinctly aware that they continue to be prone to the fallacy of self-deception. Once a leader figures how to identify self-deception and take steps to “get out of the box”, they now have the obligation to share that knowledge with others.

Leadership & Self-Deception is still going strong as an influential and thoughtful leadership development work well worth a few dollars and a few hours.

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