The Infinite Leader Book Summary - The Infinite Leader Book explained in key points
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The Infinite Leader summary

Chris Lewis & Pippa Malmgren

Balancing the Demands of Modern Business Leadership

3.6 (13 ratings)
18 mins
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    The Infinite Leader
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    The problem with imbalance

    At the height of its value, WeWork was worth a theoretical $47 billion. Whenever its co-founder Adam Neumann spoke, the media lapped it up. His charisma matched his company’s promise of creative co-working spaces. 

    So what brought down this seeming luminary who had the height, the hair and the brains to match? Or rather, why did investors pick Neumann over 30 million other businesses that employ close to 50 percent of the American workforce?

    The answer lies in the imbalance in the way leadership is perceived and chosen. In prioritizing deductive skills, people tend to overlook ethical values that are the best predictors of a leader’s vision and team-building ability.

    Of course you want your leaders to think, but if that’s all they do, their teams miss out on empathy and the role it can play in upholding a common purpose. It later emerged Adam Neumann was a hypocrite who denied his employees proverbial meals while he feasted. That small quirk was manifested in the way he mismanaged the company.

    Another imbalance, perhaps the most challenging of the modern age, is the relentless pace of change. In a rush to solve problems before the next quarter or election, there’s simply not enough time to process the past, relate it to the present and plan for the long-term.

    Rapid change is exacerbated by just how much information leadership has to process. Knowledge now doubles every few minutes, distractions are endless and our emotional reaction to events has created a minefield leadership is too eager to bypass. This creates even more tension.

    To navigate the imbalance, people simply choose their sides and sources. They stop listening and conversations become impossible. Faith in one argument trumps logic in another at a time when the world needs both.

    Data is gold, sure. But there’s just too much you can’t read on a balance sheet. There’s a bias towards quantitative analysis and little effort to observe qualities like the morale of a team or the non-verbal clues of a colleague.

    Most leaders are specialists who lack the capacity to bring different people and ideas together to find a lasting solution. This is a result of how leadership is currently viewed and taught. Leaders are seen as special, mostly male, tall and confident.

    But confidence can sometimes be a good disguise for incompetence.

    A male-oriented approach to leadership excludes women, minorities and even people in the majority who have the ability but not necessarily the required certificate. Only one third of Americans have a college degree. There are millions running successful businesses who didn’t attend business school.

    The current system rewards risk, and few leaders win prizes for being supportive. Cavalier bankers who commit crimes or priests who abuse their followers haven’t had to deal with the balancing and restorative power of justice.

    Choose any criteria, observe the opposite, and you can judge if there’s an imbalance. That’s the foundation that leads you to the concept of Zero. Let’s find out what that means.

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    What is The Infinite Leader about?

    The Infinite Leader (2020) presents the crisis afflicting modern leadership as a problem of balance, and proposes solutions to keeping the wholesome leader centered. Working from this position opens up boundless opportunities and restores people’s faith in leadership.

    Who should read The Infinite Leader?

    • Anyone leading a team, business, organization or community
    • People learning how to choose and follow their leaders
    • Anyone trying to live a more balanced and fulfilling life

    About the Author

    Chris Lewis and Pippa Malmgren started their writing partnership with The Leadership Lab, an offering that won Leadership Book of the Year and Business Book of the Year in the UK in 2019. It also won the New York City Business Big Book Award and 2020 Independent Book Award. They are both bestselling authors and entrepreneurs in their own right.

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