Leadership and Self-Deception

Title: Leadership and Self-Deception – Getting Out of the Box

Author: The Arbinger Institute

Completed: Jan 2023 (Full list of books)

Overview: This came up in a conversation with a coworker. She recommended it as a quick read and it was. It’s written in the same style as other overly didactic books where rather than trying to show you the points they are trying to make in 2000 words, they tell you a first-person story of someone learning the lessons they want you to learn. This approach takes over 100 pages, but I guess it’s more interesting. The main point comes down to “you should treat all people (and especially coworkers) as actual people, not objects that help you get what you want.” It has a some good ideas to reflect on, but like several other books I read over the last few years, I would have liked it twice as much if it had been half as long.


  • Either I’m seeing others straightforwardly as they are—as people like me who have needs and desires as legitimate as my own—or I’m not. As I heard Kate put it once: One way, I experience myself as a person among people. The other way, I experience myself as the person among objects.
  • we see them in terms of the self-justifying images we’ve created. If people act in ways that challenge the claim made by a self-justifying image, we see them as threats. If they reinforce the claim made by a self-justifying image, we see them as allies. If they fail to matter to a self-justifying image, we see them as unimportant.
  • However bitterly I complain about someone’s poor behavior toward me and about the trouble it causes me, I also find it strangely delicious. It’s my proof that others are as blameworthy as I’ve claimed them to be—and that I’m as innocent as I claim myself to be. The behavior I complain about is the very behavior that justifies me.”
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