Another contribution to leadership studies that largely revisits well-traversed ground.

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LEADERSHIP'S BIG IDEA

A self-help guide teaches the basic principles of leadership demanded by an ever-shifting global landscape.

Leadership is hardly a new concept, although an entire publishing industry has been structured around its exploration in the last 10 years or so. Kayandabila (Rediscover the Power of Your Identity, 2010) makes the case that the irrepressible onslaught of globalization and the rise of e-commerce require a reinterpretation of the idea. Now there is an unprecedented need for someone more agile, infinitely adaptable, and passionate not only about results, but also the creation of a culture of personal fulfillment for others. True team leaders are also team players, mentoring those they identify as the “high potential leaders” of the future. And today, effective leadership requires a “global mindset,” which means something like a cosmopolitan disposition that embraces and learns from cultural diversity. The author divides the book into three sections: the first focuses on the transformation of leadership by the digital age, the second on the process of self-development for leaders, and the concluding part anatomizes the mindset that characterizes successful ones. This last section is by far the most absorbing. Kayandabila—who lives in Tanzania and studied medicine there—analyzes the leadership qualities of the brightest luminaries in Africa. But the writing is dense and convoluted, and once disentangled often communicates a simple truism about the nature of leadership. Consider this definition of the “mantle of leadership,” which manages to be vague, banal, and long-winded: “In essence the mantle of leadership is an individual’s leadership system; it’s an invisible sense of disposition; a true sense of the right attitude; an internal state of moral authority; an inner potential that is capable of growth and evolution; it’s a moral intelligence that can be learned, acquired, and communicated from leader-to-leader, leader-to-followers or leader-to-situation and environment.” There’s very little counsel provided that rises above such airy generalities, with the book offering equally broad discussions of the new requisites of the digital economy and globalization. It’s refreshing to find a discussion of a region rarely interpreted as an incubator of world leaders, but disappointing to see that innovation undermined by platitudes.

Another contribution to leadership studies that largely revisits well-traversed ground.

Pub Date: Nov. 11, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-5246-0889-7

Page Count: 304

Publisher: AuthorHouse

Review Posted Online: Dec. 28, 2016

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Striking research showing the immense complexity of ordinary thought and revealing the identities of the gatekeepers in our...

THINKING, FAST AND SLOW

A psychologist and Nobel Prize winner summarizes and synthesizes the recent decades of research on intuition and systematic thinking.

The author of several scholarly texts, Kahneman (Emeritus Psychology and Public Affairs/Princeton Univ.) now offers general readers not just the findings of psychological research but also a better understanding of how research questions arise and how scholars systematically frame and answer them. He begins with the distinction between System 1 and System 2 mental operations, the former referring to quick, automatic thought, the latter to more effortful, overt thinking. We rely heavily, writes, on System 1, resorting to the higher-energy System 2 only when we need or want to. Kahneman continually refers to System 2 as “lazy”: We don’t want to think rigorously about something. The author then explores the nuances of our two-system minds, showing how they perform in various situations. Psychological experiments have repeatedly revealed that our intuitions are generally wrong, that our assessments are based on biases and that our System 1 hates doubt and despises ambiguity. Kahneman largely avoids jargon; when he does use some (“heuristics,” for example), he argues that such terms really ought to join our everyday vocabulary. He reviews many fundamental concepts in psychology and statistics (regression to the mean, the narrative fallacy, the optimistic bias), showing how they relate to his overall concerns about how we think and why we make the decisions that we do. Some of the later chapters (dealing with risk-taking and statistics and probabilities) are denser than others (some readers may resent such demands on System 2!), but the passages that deal with the economic and political implications of the research are gripping.

Striking research showing the immense complexity of ordinary thought and revealing the identities of the gatekeepers in our minds.

Pub Date: Nov. 1, 2011

ISBN: 978-0-374-27563-1

Page Count: 512

Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Review Posted Online: Sept. 4, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2011

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A deftly argued case for a new kind of socialism that, while sure to inspire controversy, bears widespread discussion.

CAPITAL AND IDEOLOGY

A massive investigation of economic history in the service of proposing a political order to overcome inequality.

Readers who like their political manifestoes in manageable sizes, à la Common Sense or The Communist Manifesto, may be overwhelmed by the latest from famed French economist Piketty (Top Incomes in France in the Twentieth Century: Inequality and Redistribution, 1901-1998, 2014, etc.), but it’s a significant work. The author interrogates the principal forms of economic organization over time, from slavery to “non-European trifunctional societies,” Chinese-style communism, and “hypercapitalist” orders, in order to examine relative levels of inequality and its evolution. Each system is founded on an ideology, and “every ideology, no matter how extreme it may seem in its defense of inequality, expresses a certain idea of social justice.” In the present era, at least in the U.S., that idea of social justice would seem to be only that the big ones eat the little ones, the principal justification being that the wealthiest people became rich because they are “the most enterprising, deserving, and useful.” In fact, as Piketty demonstrates, there’s more to inequality than the mere “size of the income gap.” Contrary to hypercapitalist ideology and its defenders, the playing field is not level, the market is not self-regulating, and access is not evenly distributed. Against this, Piketty arrives at a proposed system that, among other things, would redistribute wealth across societies by heavy taxation, especially of inheritances, to create a “participatory socialism” in which power is widely shared and trade across nations is truly free. The word “socialism,” he allows, is a kind of Pandora’s box that can scare people off—and, he further acknowledges, “the Russian and Czech oligarchs who buy athletic teams and newspapers may not be the most savory characters, but the Soviet system was a nightmare and had to go.” Yet so, too, writes the author, is a capitalism that rewards so few at the expense of so many.

A deftly argued case for a new kind of socialism that, while sure to inspire controversy, bears widespread discussion.

Pub Date: March 10, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-674-98082-2

Page Count: 976

Publisher: Belknap/Harvard Univ.

Review Posted Online: Dec. 22, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2020

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