Leading Minds: An Anatomy of Leadership

Leading Minds: An Anatomy of Leadership

Leading Minds: An Anatomy of Leadership

Leading Minds: An Anatomy of Leadership

Synopsis

The man who revolutionized our understanding of intelligence and creativity in such books as Frames of Mind and Creating Minds now does the same for leadership. Illustrations.

Excerpt

In a way that I could never have anticipated, my two most recent books led me to ponder the phenomenon of effective leadership. In Creating Minds: An Anatomy of Creativity Seen through the Lives of Freud, Einstein, Picasso, Stravinksy, Eliot, Graham, and Gandhi (1993), I studied seven exemplary creative individuals, each of whom achieved his or her most stunning breakthrough in the shadow of 1900. Among these creators, many striking similarities existed, as well as some startling differences. But it became apparent to me early on that Mahatma Gandhi diverged in essential ways from the other six individuals, who were leaders within established domains of accomplishment, such as physics or painting or poetry. In contrast, Gandhi was trying to lead a nation--indeed, as it eventually turned out, all human beings. Leading Minds represents an effort to go beyond the first six creators just listed and to understand what is distinctive about those who presume to provide leadership across domains.

In The Unschooled Mind: How Children Think, and How Schools Should Teach (1991), I sought to understand why children absorb experiences and acquire diverse facilities so readily in the earliest years of life, and yet have such difficulty mastering the disciplines and skills conveyed by school. My research convinced me that, by the age of five or so, human beings already have a well-formed "unschooled mind" that consists of simple theories about mind and matter. The theories may be charming, but they are all too often misguided or plainly false. While formal education strives mightily to refashion the mind of the five-year-old into the mind of a more sophisticated conceptualizer, most schools fail in this mission. Indeed, except for individuals who become expert in specific domains and actually come to think in a fundamentally different way about the world, most adults continue to theorize much as they did when they were young children.

The implications of this conclusion are startling from a scientific point of view and troubling from a societal perspective. If a leader presumes to speak to the masses of a nation or across the dialects of different domains, then, in effect, he or she must begin by addressing what I call "the five-year-old . . .

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