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A Skimmer’s Guide to Tipping Sacred Cows: Kick the Terrible Perform Habits That Masquerade as Virtues, by Jake Breeden

The book: Tipping Sacred Cows: Kick the Undesirable Function Habits That Masquerade as Virtues, by Jake Breeden.

The major idea: Leaders pride themselves on traits such as creativity and passion. But unquestioned virtues curdle into vices when pursued relentlessly or in the incorrect contexts.

The backstory: Breeden is on the faculty of Duke University’s executive education system and consults for corporations including Google and IBM.

If you study nothing else: Each chapter corresponds to a distinct leadership trait. So take a look in the mirror and decide accordingly. Obsessed with innovation? Chapter 4 asks no matter whether your inventive power can be much better applied elsewhere, such as enhancing current products. Crazy for collaboration? Chapter 3 points out that most people function far better alone. So resist forming teams–or at least make them temporary.

Do not “Just Do It”: Passion becomes destructive when leaders subvert other values, burn out their workers, or dismiss tips that counter their beliefs, says Breeden. Or when that passion stems from insecurities. He suggests passionate leaders ask themselves, “Am I trying to prove one thing to myself or a person else?”

Rigor rating: 7 (1=Who Moved My Cheese? ten=Effective to Remarkable). Breeden trots out plentiful analysis results. But, like a wide range of consultants concerned with client privacy, he rarely reveals which suppliers or leaders his anecdotes describe.

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