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James Donaldson’s Book Review – Why Are We Bad at Picking Good Leaders by Jeffrey Cohn


Why Are We Bad At Picking Good LeadersAlmost 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?”

This was an excellent book on leadership, and I learned so much about some of the traits that we ought to keep in mind when we are selecting our leaders.

First of all, the book goes on to say that “leadership potential starts with integrity”. And then he goes on to list the seven attributes of leadership, which are:

– integrity

– empathy

– emotional intelligence

– vision

– judgment

– courage

– passion

The authors go into much more detail in the book as far as breaking down the seven attributes of leadership. For instance, they talk about empathy, as being in the capacity to understand and share another’s feelings. How many of our leaders possesses capacity? So many of our leaders are into it for “what’s in it for them” that there’s a great tendency to overlook the people that they are leading.

Emotional intelligence pertains to “self-mastery” skills. The ability to perceive, react while being in control, the ability to perceive and control what happens with us. Emotional intelligence contains three questions. Do I know myself? Can I control myself? Can I reflect in a meaningful way? Self-awareness is essential for good judgment. Good judgment essentially means good decision-making.

Vision and passion are two very important leadership qualities as well.

I felt that a lot of things that the authors wrote about in this book, were pretty self-explanatory, and in a way, commonsensical. But, when it comes to making decisions and using our logic, common sense seems to be the first thing that goes out the window.

In our current environment of the upcoming 2016 presidential election for the United States, it’s interesting watching the debates, and the different constituent followings of the various candidates. There are people who are going to vote for Hillary Clinton, no matter what. There are people who are going to vote for Donald Trump, no matter what. It becomes more of a popularity contest and name recognition contest then really a matter of what the substance and the candidate is all about.

So, I’m putting to use a lot of these wonderful traits about leadership, as I go about selecting my choice for the next president of the United States. As well is so many other things that I’m involved with.

I’m a business owner myself, and therefore a leader in my business and in the business community in which I serve. I’ve got to hold myself up continually with integrity, enthusiasm, honesty, work ethic, passion, courage, all the while continuing to have a great sense of empathy for those who I work with.

This book also 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, so that we can get a first-hand account from them on what made them successful leaders.


Learning leadership qualities is a lifelong process, and it’s great to be able to come across great books like this from time to time to pick up a few more bits of information to apply.


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