As an anthropologist and former business school professor of Leadership and Organizational Behavior, I have long felt frustrated that Psychology has a near ‘social science monopoly’ on leadership studies and leadership development generally.
First, nothing against psychology. However, as Gillian Tett has brilliantly argued over the years, an anthropological perspective empowers would-be leaders to see beyond themselves, not merely into themselves. The ‘leader on the couch’ approach (thank you psychology) encourages leaders to better know themselves, so they can be the best version of themselves, blah, blah, blah. The world needs less, not more, selfishness…
More Empathy Please
To the extent that both empathy and innovative corporate strategies are derived from broad cultural intelligence and curiosity about others and their worldviews, I would suggest that anthropology is uniquely situated to become a go-to social science in the development of corporate leaders.
Anthropology already has a long track record of helping companies innovate (through design research and marketing, etc.), perhaps it is time for anthropology to move up the food chain to the C-suite.
Five Questions for Leaders
In early Fall, 2022, we are launching a new executive program- Anthropology for Leaders. The program is based on on the culture framework outlined in my forthcoming (Spring 2023) book: Five Questions: How to design a more engaged and adaptive culture.