Book Reviews

#1793 Leadership and Self-Deception: Getting Out of the Box, The Arbinger Institute, ISBN: 978-157675-977-6, $16.95 

Janessa Boley, Chemical and Biological Engineering, Iowa State University, boleyj@iastate.edu   
 
“There is something deeper than behavior that determines our influence on others—“(The 
Arbinger Institute, p. 49).  In Leadership and Self-Deception: Getting Out of the Box, The Arbinger 
Institute tells us a story of how one company implemented the idea of the “box” to help reframe the work 
environment and the employees working styles and relational skills within the company. This leadership 
and teaching of getting out of the box, reshaped this company and can be a great concept to use in 
everyday life to help build and foster a variety of relationships. 

The Arbinger Institute lays out this book in a story, telling direct accounts of actual experiences 
that the company had gone through to restructure their leadership philosophy.  They lay out 
conversations of how to get out of the box, what the box is, and how we as people are all in this box of 
our own self-deception.  The structure of this book is one of its many strengths to make it more personal.  
This format makes it easily relatable to real life scenarios, in both work and personal relationships.  It 
allows the reader to put themselves in the employee’s shoes and to directly apply what is being taught to 
the reader’s everyday life. 

The idea of the box, is laid out in a very sequential, easy to follow story line where they first 
explain the box and what it is, everyone has their own box, everyone creates their own self-deception and 
it is up to that individual if they want to accept that or keep living in this box.  After carefully structuring what 
the box looks like in the first part of the book, they break down how to get out of the box.  This is 
challenging on a day to day basis for everyone.  Not only are we trying to out of the box of self-deception 
ourselves, but we have to understand how others are in the box as well and how that might affect our end 
goals.   

After laying the groundwork of explaining the box, why we are in it, and how we get out of it, the 
authors summarize this in a very professional and applicable way.  They show how to use it in our 
leadership roles and this helps with the direct applications for higher educational role.  It really allows you, 
as a leader, to learn how to see other perspectives, while not being too passive.  It helps us, as advisers, 
notice our own box, so hopefully it does not get in the way when working with students.  

By getting out of the box, and trying to stay out of the box, we “see another as a person, with needs, hopes, and worries as real and legitimate as my own” (The Arbinger Institutes, p.149). This book was a very easy, quick read that I found to be directly applicable to both my personal life and my advising life. By working through this book, I was taught in a step by step approach, how to go about seeing people as people and hope to reread this again in the near future.  We get caught up in the day to day work and that pulls us back into our box of self-deceptions, by realizing this and trying to 
stay out of this box, I feel it would make a huge impact in our working lives.  

Posted in: 2017 Book Reviews
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