When Many Ask “Where Are the Leaders?,” Klaus Leisinger Shows Us How to Lead

We have just published Klaus Leisinger’s new book, The Art of Leading, on Amazon.

Initial reactions have been most favorable, with very appreciative comments that it comes at a time of troubles when the leaders which Klaus describes are needed. My colleague, Richard Broderick, is one of those who admires Klaus’ practical wisdom. I include below Rich’s review of the book.

The Art of Leading: The Significance of Personality and Character in the Choice of Leadership Personalities in the Economy
By Klaus M. Leisinger

A Quick Review by Richard Broderick

Encountering a book aimed at business executives, consultants and academics who teach management theory with a title like The Art of Leading is usually a task that elicits a weary sigh. A reader automatically expects some kind of shallow, boiled-down cross between Machiavelli and Norman Vincent Peale or perhaps a series of simplistic nostrums cobbled together by a columnist moonlighting from a newspaper business section; you know, the kind of tract that offers “on-the-scene” insights on how to get your day-old sushi business up and purring, etc.

In this case, however, the title belongs to a book whose contents are not only worthy of a business audience, but offer an integrated sequence of arguments and analyses all of us could benefit by reading. How many tomes with names like The Art of Leading offer a 27-page bibliography containing citations from sources that range from the Harvard Business Review to online magazines like Alternet to encyclicals issued by Popes John Paul XXIII, Benedict XVI and Francis I? Not many, I assure you.

The book is the work of Klaus Leisinger whose career in academia, business and as founder and president of the Global Values Alliance might lead a reader to expect a weighty tome, offering more work than enlightenment.

Not so. The Art of Leading is a clear and, above all, eloquently expressed thesis that manages, however unlikely it might seem, to demonstrate that Erich Fromm’s groundbreaking The Art of Loving, which argues that being governed by love, in the broadest and most profound meanings of the word, is as much a key to true success in the workplace as it is everywhere in life.

It is, above all, the basis of a form of “success” that benefits all stakeholders of enterprises in the capitalist world, not merely shareholders and upper management. By combining pragmatic compassion – you help me, I help you – with agapé, the embrace of a universal and unconditional love of the cosmos, it is within our grasp, Leisinger argues, to shape an economic system that sustains the environment – natural, human, political and financial – while maintaining the freedom to choose where we work, what kind of work we do, who will serve as our political leaders and more.

Given enough time, human beings can get used to almost anything, Dostoevsky argued. And that, he declared, is both our greatest strength – and our most dangerous weakness. We are very adept at compartmentalizing our lives and our sense of consciousness: a critical skill for a species of relatively small physical prowess (compared to, say, bears and tigers) and a wide and highly variegated range of undertakings necessary for survival.

In the capitalist world, the emphasis of this compartmentalization tends to fall on the individual, as opposed to the collective. I know I can make this happen tends to supersede the deeper question of should I make this happen, regardless of the benefit to others. This emphasis lies at the heart of why capitalism was born and first flourished in the west.

In time, however, that has led to an economic system whose internalizing of profits, while externalizing costs has bequeathed us with a mentality in which industries and individual enterprises operate as if everything and everyone is either a resource or a potential consumer, here to be used, used up and then discarded.

Of late, society’s long-standing objection to profit über alles has taken on an even greater urgency. Today, it’s not just an individual city or region or even country that suffers from irresponsible business practices; it is the entire planet, including the natural environment upon which human civilization – and any kind of economic system – relies for survival.

Can we respond in a manner that is able to reconcile and preserve what is best about capitalism – its enormous power to marshal resources and enrich whole societies – with what must be done to preserve our world?

Yes, Leisinger proposes, if we learn that The Art of Leading depends upon The Art of Loving, where “love” is practiced in the broadest and most beneficent sense.