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December 05, 2011

"A First-Rate Madness": A Book that Expands Your Take on Leadership Styles.

If you think your boss might be a whack job some days, bet on him anyway. While its writing and organization could have been even better, and the research perhaps deeper, the ideas in A First-Rate Madness: Uncovering the Links Between Leadership and Mental Illness by Nassir Ghaemi, who runs the Mood Disorders Program at Tufts Medical Center, will likely change the way you think about leadership. At the same time it gives you an empathy for both internal personal pain and exterior quirk in decision-makers you almost certainly never had. It's also a brave book. "Mental Illness" is given a broad definition here but most of Ghaemi's subjects--he includes among others Churchill, Lincoln, Gandhi, Martin Luther King, Jr., John Kennedy, General W.T. Sherman and Ted Turner--are explained according to biologically-inherited and/or drug or chemical-induced traits (usually a combination of the two) that will stand the genre of biographical "psycho-history" on its already tormented head. The thesis: In times of crisis, leaders with abnormal or even "bad" mental health are much more effective than sane ones. And, of course, they are a lot more interesting to consider.

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Posted by JD Hull at December 5, 2011 11:59 PM

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