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Michael Maccoby

Michael Maccoby

Michael Maccoby is an anthropologist and psychoanalyst globally recognized as an expert on leadership. He is the author of The Leaders We Need, And What Makes Us Follow.

Our secret hope

In this age of continual change and challenge, we need leaders dedicated to the common good. But surveys show that 80 percent of Americans don't trust leaders. The reason is obvious. Leaders in government and business have been incompetent (Katrina, GM) and corrupt.

Furthermore, Americans have traditionally been suspicious of leaders. We may get crushes on leaders like Obama, but in this nation founded on the idea of individual liberty, we are quick to find fault with anyone we are forced to follow. Although studies prove that good leadership makes the difference in the success of businesses, hospitals and schools, the image of bosses programmed in our heads from childhood is like Dagwood's Mr. Dithers or Dilbert's pointy-headed manager.

Yet, against our suspicion that leaders are self seeking egomaniacs, we still hope that when we are in danger, a competent, trustworthy, selfless leader will emerge to save the situation and then, with all humility, withdraw. George Washington returning to farm Mt. Vernon is the prototype. Airline captain Sully Sullenberger who landed his plane in the Hudson River saving all on board comes close to this model. So do many of the military leaders who bravely risk their lives to protect their troops and serve this nation.

However, the leaders we need to shape and run America"s companies, schools, hospitals and government agencies cannot just save the day, take a bow and leave the scene. They must learn how to gain willing collaborators in achieving a common purpose. The well-being of this country depends on them.

By Michael Maccoby

 |  October 20, 2009; 11:09 AM ET
Category:  Leadership personalities Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   Del.icio.us   StumbleUpon   Technorati  
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