Book Reviews and Links Arbinger Institute; Leadership and Self-Deception – Getting out of the box, 2000, 2002.

This little volume offers a classic look at a small slice of organizational behavior. In the form of a business novella, it explores what happens when people fool themselves into blaming others.

The authors’ underlying premise is that we can understand how others feel about us, and it’s to that that we respond. In a fictionalized account of a highly successful company, they set forth the premise that self-awareness can lead to extraordinary performance.

Their phrase “in the box” refers to where you’ll find yourself when you don’t live up to your own value system. Imagine, for example, that your colleagues all plan to work late on an important project. You know that you probably should stay and help them, but you are tired and you want to go home.

You will be “in the box” if you choose to leave but aren’t honest with yourself about what you’re doing. When you’re in the box, you’ll start justifying your decision by inflating your own virtues (“I’m always the one who works hard”) and casting blame on others (“They’re so lazy, it’s about time they did their share”).

The “box” concept may help to explain the boss whose high self-evaluation is out of touch with reality. The book offers a few intriguing concepts, and is a good read in the process.

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