Quick summary of Leadership and Self-Deception

Leadership and Self Deception by the Arbinger Institute, is a leadership fable which discusses two concepts – “In the Box” and “Out of the Box”.

Once a person is “in the box”, they see others in a distorted way and as a source of their problem. The person “in the box” sees himself as the centre of the world and others as mere objects – whose needs are secondary and less legitimate than their own.  He, more often than not, blames others and finds faults with whatever others do or say. For the person “in the box”, his needs come before anybody else’s and only after they are satisfied, does he look at needs of others. And   a person “in the box” could face issues such as  a lack of commitment, lack of engagement, poor team work, backbiting, lack of trust, communication problems among others. It is because being “in the box” limits our ability to reach our full potential and betrays the basic obligation that we have to see others as they are, as people.

A person “out of the box” sees others as People – as a person who has feelings, hopes, fears and needs.  A person who is ‘out of the box’ places his needs and the needs of others on the same level.  He is a good communicator, tries to motivate people around and can deliver even the hardest messages without any ill feeling.     The motivation for smart people to be smarter and for skilled people to be even more skilled, is for them to be treated in a straightforward manner, and to give them the respect and dignity they deserve.  A person “out of the box” creates an environment of openness, trust and teamwork where people work hard, put in effort for the collective good of the group not for individual accomplishments.

There is a nice summary at the end of the book :

  • Self betrayal leads to self-deception and “the box”
  • When you are in the box, you cannot focus on the results
  • Your influence and success will depend on being out of the box
  • You get out of the box as you cease resisting other people
  • Don’t try to be perfect. Do try to be better
  • Don’t use the vocabulary “the box” and so on – with people who don’t already know it. Do use the principles in your own life
  • Don’t look for others’ boxes. Do look for your own
  • Don’t accuse others of being in the box. Do try to stay out of the box yourself
  • Don’t give up on yourself when you discover you have been in the box. Do keep trying
  • Don’t deny that you have been in the box when you have been. Do apologise, then just keep marching forward, trying to be more helpful in the future.
  • Don’t focus on what others are doing wrong. Do focus on what you can do right to help
  • Don’t worry whether others are helping you. Do worry whether you are helping others.

I particularly liked a 10 minute video by Callibrain summarizing the book  – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=s-X-P0tzlF8

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The 10 Core Values of Zappos

I recently read Tony Hsieh’s “Delivering Happiness – A Path to  Passion, Profits and Purpose” and I found it a very inspiring read.  We, in the Agile world often hear of the Zappos culture and values –  which looks very simple from the outside, but very difficult to follow in the real sense of the term.

I have summarised the 10 Core Values which Zappos lives by, in letter and spirit.  Here is a brief summary of those Core Values   —>  The 10 Core Values of Zappos