Three new books for executives looking to go beyond conventional wisdom.

by Insigniam Read more from the Favorable Results in Unfavorable Conditions issue

Why Do So Many Incompetent Men Become Leaders? (and How to Fix It)

 

Why Do So Many Incompetent Men Become Leaders? (and How to Fix It). By Tomas Chamorro-Premuzic. Harvard Business Review Press, 2019.

Yes, this book’s title seems conceived to raise eyebrows. But open the cover and you will find a wealth of research supporting Mr. Chamorro-Premuzic’s central claim: Underperforming men climb the corporate ladder, often leapfrogging more qualified women, because society erroneously values traits like narcissism and overconfidence. He offers more than indictments, however. Drawing on insights gleaned from his day job as chief talent scientist at ManpowerGroup, Mr. Chamorro-Premuzic outlines strategies to help put the right woman (or man) in charge—not simply the one with the loudest voice.

 

Loonshots: How to Nurture the Crazy Ideas That Win Wars, Cure Diseases, and Transform Industries

Loonshots: How to Nurture the Crazy Ideas That Win Wars, Cure Diseases, and Transform Industries. By Safi Bahcall. St. Martin’s Press, 2019.

Truly innovative ideas—“game changers,” in today’s parlance—often seem at first to be impossible, naive or even downright weird. Even after business leaders express a desire for groundbreaking thinking, they quickly recoil when asked to embrace such concepts. The consequences for companies can be massive. Mr. Bahcall’s book explains why leaders rigidly reject new ideas offhand. Through intriguing case studies, the entrepreneur and physicist shows how the science of “phase transitions” can unlock what drives the behaviors of people and organizations. Through small changes to organizational structure—not culture—the book shows how to embrace wild ideas that can change the world.

 

 

Wolfpack: How to Come Together, Unleash Our Power, and Change the GameWolfpack: How to Come Together, Unleash Our Power, and Change the Game. By Abby Wambach. Celadon Books, 2019.

Who knows more about balancing the difficult dynamics of individuals and teams than two-time Olympic gold medalist and FIFA World Cup champion Abby Wambach? The retired soccer player detailed hard-earned lessons in a 2018 commencement speech at Barnard College. The speech went viral, eventually becoming the basis for this new work.

Her message to women is timely yet transcendent: “We have never been Little Red Riding Hood. We are the wolves. We must wander off the path and blaze a new one: together.” By bucking outmoded rules and conventions, women can forge ahead to achieve both singular and collective goals.

 

 

This article appeared in the Summer 2019 issue of Insigniam Quarterly, with the headline “Unleashing Favorable Results.” To begin receiving IQ, go here.


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