Author

The Arbinger Institute

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4.766665
Average: 4.8 (30 votes)

Manager Tools rating

5

This review was submitted by Mark.

One of the rare fable books I recommend, this book has the power to change your life.  I’m not kidding.

My good friend Michael Swenson recommended this book to me, and I will be forever grateful*.  It’s the story of a manager/executive newly hired by a company with a powerful culture and training process, one that seeks to get deeply into how each member thinks and feels and works with each other.

The reason Michael recommended it is because at first blush it appears to directly contradict Manager Tools’ philosophy of focusing on behavior.  [To be clear, we focus on behavior because it’s observable, measurable and teachable as the engine of success.  We know that love and service to others is the engine. – H] When I read it the first time, I said, yeah, okay, good points…but try to teach that to others.  THAT is HARD.  To their credit, that’s what the Arbinger Institute is doing.  Full disclosure, it’s quite direct that behavior is NOT the answer…and I still highly recommend this book.  Imagine that.

The book posits that we are all terribly self-deluded, deceiving ourselves about why others are the way they are, and, frankly, why we behave the way we do.  It suggests that we have to change the way we think about others to begin to get the best out of ourselves and of others.  It’s an internal change they recommend.

I can vouch for its accuracy.  I have seen in myself many of the failings highlighted in the book.  I tend to see my behavior as the teachable way to get there, but I won’t argue with a book this powerful.  I just think we can all behave our way into believing.

This book is good enough to be read twice.  I’ve done it.  And I never do that except with Peter Drucker and Travis McGee.

* - But never so much as I am for Michael’s patient friendship.  We argue routinely over who has gotten the most from the other.  Since I have the bigger platform to say thank you, for now I am winning.  Thanks dude.

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cgratny's picture

I bought the audio version of this book on iTunes, and listen to this book and manager tool's podcasts when I get frustrated with people.   It reminds me to change MY behavior toward my directs and others that I work with.

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iannotathome's picture

I got the audio book, listened to this while traveling and ruined my weekend. I spent more time looking at my own faults and thinking... "Man, I need to start all over again". I've already recommended it to the executive team here at my company this morning. Helped me to rethink relationships that have always left me wondering why my "skill" hasn't helped make things better. Truth is that I've never liked these people for reasons I haven't quite faced up to. Very good book, perfect suppliment to MT

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olivia751's picture

Hello,

             I yet not read this book. Because i am a little bit confused about this book. Some of my friend told me that is one of the good book in all  Leadership Books  and some told me that this is not the good one.  Don't know what to do?

 

 

Regards,

Olivia

 

 

 

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malekz's picture

This is about the story of an executive hired by one of the most successful companies ever. The company requires newly-hired employees to meet with two officials of the company for an entire day or two to go over a powerful cultural training process delving into how one thinks, feels, and relates to others.  The company owes its outstanding business success to such training. The tenor of the book is that we all deceive ourselves about why we do what we do and about why others do what they do in response to us. This will lead to an amazing cycle of self-destructive behavior by all parties. However well intentioned we may be if we deceive ourselves, we always end up undermining our own performance.

The book brings up real world examples of many such situations that we can all feel and share. One of the unique features of this book is that it shows us that a proper Behavior in the form of communicating, coping, leaving, changing our own behavior, using any interpersonal skill, etc, is NOT going to be the answer to the problem.  We must begin to think differently about others before we can fundamentally change the dynamics of situations to healthy and productive ones.
 
Without giving away the story of the book, I must talk about one thing that I would have liked the book to have addressed in more detail. That is the concept of” being result-driven;” Frankly I had to grapple with it.  
 
We have been time and again trained to make our resumes result-driven by talking about specific accomplishments. Even during interview, we can expect a question like “What is your management style?” to which one possible answer may be “I am a result-driven manager/executive.”
 
I do not know if you ever applied for a high-level  executive job with the Federal Government. For such jobs (above GS-15) OPM (Office of Personnel Management) requires you to write essays about ECQs (Executive Core Qualifications). One of these ECQs is “Results Driven.” OPM narrowly defines it as the “Ability to make timely and effective decisions and produce results.”
 
If there is any negative about this book, it is this. The central question on being Result-Driven is “Does the end justify the means?”  For example, I am no constitutional scholar but as a U.S. citizen, I would like to think that when the Founding Fathers wrote the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution of the United States they declared those inalienable rights for all human beings. They did not mean for these rights to be a piece of private property owned by US citizens only.  Then, are we justified to use torture (I mean “Enhanced Interrogation”) to obtain information results from “enemy combatants”? I think a book this powerful should have stepped into the area of Leadership Ethics as well but disappointingly it does not. This is the only weakness I was able to detect. This book is so good to be read and even better listened to its audio version several times.
 

This is one of the best books you will have in your library – A highly recommended 5-Star book.

--malekz

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DPWade's picture

I intentionally got the audio book for my drive from Florida to the N.E. US 2 days before starting a new senior position, new market, new company.   The psychology presented there, in thought by thought linear progression as though attending an all day conversation was brilliant strategy in itself.  Life changing as Mark stated is not strong enough to paint a picture of this concept.  The author should have a nobel "peace" prize for capturing the inner truth of Conscience and applying it to the 900 pound Gorilla of interpersonal conflict resolution, whether Corporate or Personal.

Bravo Arbinger.

-D

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PBeaney's picture

Great recomendation guys. I feel so much different outside the box ! Really has helped me to be happier in my work and at home. Currently getting copies for my team :)

 

4751

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groupdynamic's picture

Manager Tools has inspired me to help others truly focus on behavior.  This is a radical idea in much of my traditional market - youth leadership.

When I finally got around to this book, I kept thinking "uh-oh - this is about attitude, not behavior.  WWMS?"  [what would Mark say?]

I found it convincing, but not totally about behavior - and not totally about attitude, either.  It's the "deepest" fable out there, I think (I also dislike the fable format).  In the end, it IS about the way we treat others, and that's behavior.  The attitude - the commitment to being "out of the box" - makes the behavior more natural, more real, and easier to execute.

I'm glad you liked it, too, Mark.  It's a load off my mind.  Really.

 

Alan Feirer

Group Dynamic

Site:  www.groupdynamic.us

Blog:  www.alanfeirer.com

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MarkAus's picture

I just finished this book and I'm in the minority here by saying I got very little value out of it.    For the sake of full disclosure - I skimmed the last 30 pages.

I have a strong streak of empathy, which is pretty much what this book suggests you need to be out of the box.     I agreed with pretty much everything that was being said, but I didn't see myself as being in the box in many of the ways the book outlines.  Lucky me I guess.

The book I read prior to this was Covey's "7 Habits" and this book comes from an almost identical place.    Maybe that's why this book didn't give me any "wow" moments - I should have broken up my reading!

I would recommend this book for people who are starting out on their careers or to people who naturally think in terms of process and technical problem solving.  Those of you who are strongly people-centric will likely get less out of the book.

 

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JoeB83's picture

Mark says in some podcasts/videos that you have to give feedback to your directs with love in your heart.  This book supports that saying.  The book is ultimately about seeing people as people, rather than objects, and genuinely caring about them enough to treat them with respect and compassion.

I liked the book because it shows how our feelings impact our perspective. It is good to be aware of how a negative feeling can snowball into a big problem. I read this book on Christmas Eve and just being aware of this mindset definitely helped me have a happier Christmas. I will apply it to work starting tomorrow, and hopefully it will have a positive impact.
 
If you liked Leadership and Self-deception, you may also like 'The Responsibility Virus' by Roger Martin.  I think it expands upon how "being in the box" causes a continuous circle of failure and causes long term issues.

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