Getting to Yes, And

A Leader’s Destiny


Elias Aboujaoude

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Kelly connects with Stanford professor of psychiatry, Elias Aboujaoude, to talk about his provocative new book "A Leader's Destiny: Why Psychology, Personality, and Character Make All the Difference.”

You note that most leadership program descriptions have the wrong focus on good leadership qualities.

"As a psychiatrist, one of the most striking things to me as I go through one leadership program offering after another, there's very little reference to psychology, very little reference to personality, very little reference to character. And yet, when you think about it, these are the crucial foundations of successful leadership and of happy leaders.”

One of the problems you note is that teaching people to change their personality isn’t a thing.

"Well, what's interesting is that you know there is a science of leadership that they're teaching, for example, the importance of EQ. But what they get wrong is when they start claiming that we can teach EQ. That we can reliably turn someone who is not necessarily socially aware, who doesn't necessarily have self-knowledge, that we can, over the course of, you know, a weekend boot camp, turn them into this kind of leader, and this is where they go wrong..”

You are really suspect of executive coaches because of the promises they often make.

“I think executive coaches can help give you career advice and can help teach you how to navigate the vicissitudes of corporate culture. They can teach you about nonverbal cues, about body language, about posture, about how you should lean in and smile and shake hands. But can they really teach you about temperament? Can they really give you a personality transplant? If you're someone who's in it for yourself, can they turn you into the kind of leader who wants to lift others and wants to serve? I'm highly doubtful about that, and yet claim after claim is made that this is exactly the kind of magic that they can pull off.”

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