© Evanston Photographic
Professor David Messick
Bookshelf: The Psychology of Leadership
David Messick’s new book examines what makes strong
leaders — and what happens when they fail
Deborah Leigh Wood
Messick sits at his office computer, types in “leadership”
at amazon.com and up pop more than 92,000 entries.
you think they represent 92,000 different ideas on leadership?”
the Kellogg School professor asks wryly. “Fifty to 100
is more like it.”
did he decide to add yet another entry?
The Psychology of Leadership: New Perspectives and Research
offers something different, he says of his latest book.
books on leadership tell you how to get to the top. But they
don’t answer the question, ‘What do I need to
do to be a better leader,’” notes Messick, the
Morris & Alice Kaplan Professor of Ethics and Decision
in Management. Nor, he says, do these books examine the underlying
psychology of leadership and how people change once they climb
into executive positions.
Messick has spent
much of his career examining leadership as well as the dynamics
of ethical and social decision making. A psychologist by training,
he has been a member of the Kellogg School faculty since 1992
and has published more than 150 articles and book chapters.
The Psychology of Leadership’s 14 essays, written
by Messick and other top scholars, enquiring minds will find
answers to questions surrounding leadership failures, such
as those perpetrated by Ken Lay, Bernie Ebbers, and Conrad
Black, plus serious missteps by government officials and trusted
members of the Catholic Church.
says he was inspired to produce his book by a remarkably prescient
1998 text, The Servant Leader: Unleashing the Power of
Your People. The book was penned by Robert P. Neuschel,
a Kellogg School professor of corporate governance who died
in February. The Servant Leader extols the wisdom embodied
in a motto by which Neuschel lived: “Serve your troops
first, so that you can then lead them better.”
in Messick’s book address the conceptions, effectiveness
and consequences of leadership. His own essay examines the
changeable relationship between leaders and followers —
specifically, how someone can be a leader in one group and
a follower in another. He asks: “Why do people follow
or allow themselves to be led? And why do people lead when
leading is often costly, risky or dangerous?” He answers
by explaining that a type of equilibrium exists between leaders
and followers in which both parties benefit from this arrangement’s
Galinsky, associate professor of management and organizations
at the Kellogg School, collaborates with three other experts
to contribute an essay examining how power affects leaders’
views of themselves, their work, their actions and their colleagues.
The authors emphasize that power can get the best of even
the most well-intended leaders. To be successful, they argue,
leaders should understand how they use their power and learn
to manage it effectively.
appearing in the book is Kristin M. Behfar, visiting
assistant professor at Kellogg. She and a colleague investigate
the role of a leader in regulating group behavior.
says he hopes The Psychology of Leadership, which he
co-edited with Roderick M. Kramer, professor of organizational
behavior at the Stanford University School of Business, will
enliven the study of leadership and provide insight to students,
executives and social psychologists. He is donating royalties
of the book to the Kellogg School’s Ford
Center for Global Citizenship, of which he is co-director.