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Organizational Theory and Practice: Leadership BS

Organizational Theory and Practice: Leadership BS

Write a review of ONE of the following books, with reference to at least TWO of the social theories (at
least one from Marx, Weber and Durkheim, plus at least one from feminism and postmodernism), and to
at least ONE of Morgan�s metaphors (from Images of Organization). The Morgan metaphor chosen can
be any of the metaphors featured in the book. It can be, but does not have to be, the one covered in the
first seminar.

The author of the book is of “Stanford business school” professor and smart
thinker in prominent management who significantly provides a ‘hard-hitting leadership industry’
desertion and solutions of making careers and workplaces work better. The enterprise of
leadership is huge, and many scholars and researchers are offering talks and book reviews

Organizational Theory And Practice 2
focusing on leadership improvement. However, across the globe, there is disengagement of
employees, high levels of leaders’ turnover and derailment of a career as well as development
efforts for failed leadership. Therefore, Jeffrey Pfeffer in his ‘Leadership BS shines a bright light
on the industry of leadership’ as he shows why it is failing and how remade can be achieved. The
author sets the record straight about the ‘oft-made prescriptions’ for modern managers to be
authentic, truthful and modest telling the truth, building trust and taking others care. Jeffrey calls
BS on various theories and stories as well as leadership myths to give leaders a more scientific
approach to the proof and helpful information for guiding their professions (Pfeffer 2015, p.2).
Therefore, the author has rooted his documentation on the social science and gave practical
examples as well as advice to improve management. Thus, the book will be reviewed using the
social theories of Karl Marx or Weber or Durkheim, plus at least one from feminism and
postmodernism as well as Morgan’s metaphors about Images of Organization. It will be
important to underline how the leadership BS inspires readers to admit the truth and use the facts
for changing themselves and the world at large.

According to the author, there is a failure in the leadership industry. Also, there is
a lively critique of the professional driving discipline neither by desire nor wisdom to foster
leadership but the desire for money. The precepts of leadership according to the author are based
more on hope than reality, on wishes instead of the available data, on myths or beliefs rather than
science. Pfeffer offers solutions to the readers by rethinking leadership as he focuses on the
causes of business leadership failures (Ritzer and Stepnisky 2017, p.30). Furthermore, it is much
skeptical when the author dares readers to look away from the fables and inspiration that glut
market by accepting that part of those truisms are fallible; he believes people overrate
authenticity and honesty is not always leaders’ best policy. This is an ambitious approach by

Organizational Theory And Practice 3
Pfeffer given the current uniformity in thinking for business success making his bluntness have
much impact in slaughtering the sacred cows in the industry of leadership.

Moreover, Pfeffer used a somewhat realistic approach to critic and provided
remade for business leadership failures. The author counterattacked the arguments, ideas, and
thesis that have stereotypically tried to give the basics of great leadership (Pfeffer 2015, p.10).
According to Pfeffer, the ‘idea of servant leadership’ is essential as it looks in the interest of
others before themselves which appealing denoting on the social theory by Karl Marx. Thus, idea
ensures that organizations put the interests of employees over the overall organizational
performance. However, this seems a different approach despite admitting that it ethically makes
sense to keep improving the working environment of others. The Marxist theory of social
conflict expounds the benefit of establishing the different social classes to ensure that there is
harmony. Differentiation of social classes with an organization ensures that there is friendly
coexistence between the leadership and the employees. According to Pfeffer, improving
organizational environment eventually improves the business as well because employees turn up
better to perform their duties. However, it is significantly evident that the book lacks sufficient
evidence of this kind of leadership and organizational results. Therefore, for a recommendation
to the significant backing, the literature review and evidence-based information must accompany
it as well. Pfeffer believes that putting employees’ interests over the organizational interests or
performance builds better leader-employee relationships but this contracts main organizational
objectives of maximizing shareholders wealthy and focusing on the overall objective of making
more profit.

For instance, Pfeffer puts an example that “a leader eating the last” comes from
the sector of military and argues exemplary that it is due to most of the military leaders emerge

Organizational Theory And Practice 4
through the ranks and have accomplished many organizational jobs by themselves. Therefore,
this one evidence that Pfeffer uses to establish that leaders should look out of the interests of the
people they lead. According to the author, this style of leadership puts a value on the
organizations and would preferably select a manager from within than from organizations
outside (Pfeffer 2015, p.40). Besides, this is common in many work establishments where
leaders have little or less in common with the people they lead. It becomes the opposite as
leaders are less interested in looking into the interests of the employees or even trying to feel
closer as their interests and objectives rarely much. However, social theories advance that for
organizational growth and more success, leaders must ensure employees’ development match
those of the organizations. This creates a culture of togetherness as leaders according to social
theory by Marx can embrace the ideas, beliefs, and ideologies of employees to the overall vision
of the organizations. Therefore, this yields more results as leaders and employees work towards a
common interest thus improving the organizational performance significantly.

Besides, Pfeffer introduces the concept on which leaders attempt to safeguard
their self-esteem and their sense of proficiency. This shows the approach by which leaders only
believe in their leadership styles forgetting that incorporating the ideas of the subject make them
even better leaders. One of the most valuable assets of modern leaders is ensuring that they take
in to account the ideas, suggestions, and recommendation from the people they lead to make
informed decisions on the code of practices that will best serve the goal of the organization
(Watson 2006, p.11). On the other hand, leaders almost consistently distant themselves from the
sensation of being personally liable and rather try to blame others for their or organizational
problems. Therefore, Pfeffer feels that if leaders practice other departments or employees as they
incriminate them for problems in performance, then it becomes irrational to believe that they will

Organizational Theory And Practice 5
care for others or consider interests of others. However, Pfeffer believes that managers or leaders
should align themselves with the incentives such as jobs or salaries to raise the employees’
motivation as well as be less selfish and mind the interests of others or care about the people
around them (Kim and Hastak 2018, p.90).

One of the most powerful explanations of sociology by Karl Marx about the
social conflict is the struggle that social class face due to the intrinsic values of the capitalism in
the industrial society. The notion by Marx is powerful for people to be dynamic, intuitively
persuasive and trying to fit well in the history. Therefore, it is contemporary to provide one
package of description and explanation as well as predicting the contemporary problems and
suggest remedies for the same. Besides, Karl Marx continuous to view social conflict and relate
it to the conflict helix. In his book about business BS, Pfeffer tries to put his contest in the Marx
social conflict theory on identify the different classes of society and fitting the leaders in their
position of understanding interests of the people. Pfeffer uses reality to through rocks to the
leadership industry. For instance, the author is against the idea of “fables and inspirations” in the
leadership industry. However, this is a field, which demands more research to determine whether
the leadership industry provides nothing more than the claimed pep talks by Pfeffer. Besides,
good exploration to why leadership is self-help is significant as there are no barriers to leadership
entry in the industry, no credentials readily required; however, there are a lot of vague terms with
less evidence and a lot of inspiration talks rarely matching the reality. Also, Pfeffer offers
prescriptions to organizations on how to face the life realities as well as dealing with unpleasant
situations or people. Pfeffer believes that many people desire to believe the best but it rarely or
less likely work in their favor.

Organizational Theory And Practice 6
The author seems less cynical about medicine and clinical education than about
the leadership industry where Pfeffer could have been more cynical. The author believes that
there is evidence-based decision making in the clinical practices when there is not much. The
subject of medicine is subject to the same turf narcissism and wars as other industries there only
difference is that no one can second guess or criticize some to prescription or operating theater
when they need it. It is evident according to Pfeffer that unflattering and abusive characteristics
are common in most lionized leaders. He believes that narcissism is more successful leaders;
however, being authentic is not the best way to get ahead. Therefore, it becomes hard to
determine how being authentic can help narcissism succeed when authenticity itself fails. This is
a deception since narcissism can deceive others to serve their interests.

The author pays analysis of the game theory as incentives for leaders in different
organizations (Northouse 2018, p.20). The book singles out exceptional companies as well as
describing the consequence of assuming all companies are exceptional. He goes further to
illustrate that the world is filled with amazing organizations and leaders, but leadership stories
are written after the fact by omitting the negative characteristics of leaders. The author shows the
flaws by assuming that leaders are not virtuous but instead done to earth persons driven by greed,
ambition, and self-realization.

Moreover, Pfeffer uses the psychology, academic management, and social science
to debunk numerous common myths about the management world. In his book about Leadership
BS, he uses a ‘feel good’ leadership industry for prescribing a ‘feel good’ approach to the
practices that leaders should use, instead of having a hard look on how leaders should act as well
as be effective. Therefore, this incongruence seems that basis as to why many people are
frustrated with organizations’ and their leaders, especially in their willing ignorance of self-

Organizational Theory And Practice 7
interested as opposed to altruistic leaders’ motives. The author convincingly argues that unless
people will see things the way they are instead of idealistic fantasy, there is less chance that
organizational leadership will improve. Pfeffer deeply uses the ‘feel good’ theories to debunk
what makes a good leader, approaches the business world as it is despite being often nasty
politics. Also, he recognizes virtue but believes that it does not prevail a good part of the time.
The author idea is to see business practices have better strategies, which are clear, and address
smart leadership, which appreciate all components of the organization. The information about
leadership by Pfeffer is so useful for the sobering reality of current workplaces and leaders who
are facing continuous organizational changes due to globalization.

Also, the leadership BS by Pfeffer is very informative and eye-opening
exploration of the state of business organization leadership. Mr. Pfeffer uses the social science
literature to emphasize on a cogent argument that despite the funds spent on developing
leadership through inspiration, leadership assessment through many measures is still all-time low
and workplaces are also toxic with numerous employees being dissatisfied and disengaged. The
author discusses the accepted hallmarks of successful leaders such as humility, honesty, and trust
widely. Pfeffer argues that successful practitioners possessing this leadership attributes are so
rare that people use certain examples of strategies used by great leaders (Pfeffer 2015, p.60).
However, many business leaders, in contrast, possess few or lack any of these traits at little or no
costs. Besides, he further argues that the opposite of said traits can be advantageous for the ‘bad
leaders.’ The book widely uses examples of gross errors in behavior and ethics despite most
causes having nothing or any substantive consequences.

The book uses the Morgan metaphors on various occasions to show how leaders
are organizations are linked. According to the Morgan metaphor about business practice and

Organizational Theory And Practice 8
organizations as an instrument of domination, Pfeffer uses this metaphor to link with leadership
and how they are self-centered ignoring the interests of the employees Örtenblad, Putnam and
Trehan 2016, p.875). This Morgan metaphor views organization a system that exploits their staff,
the natural environment, and global economy for their selfish end and individual gains.
Therefore, it exposes the social and ethical dimensions as the important points of review or
focus. The approach is exploitative, cohesive and discrimination in nature as it involves the
alienation and repressing to impose values, charisma, compliance, exploitation, maintenance of
power, divide and rule, corporate interests and discrimination (Burrell and Morgan 2017, p.10. In
his discussion, Pfeffer expounds the values that mean a lot to leaders as well as wear down
common values such as inspiration and myths to explain why leaders should look beyond mere
inspiration and work towards authenticity, building trust and taking care of others. He
profoundly focuses on the leadership industry to provide remedies on how leaders can
incorporate employees or subjects to establish an organization with common interests and
purpose. He goes deeper to show how military leadership is enhanced. A leader should grow
with the system of the military to achieve higher ranks and should never come from the other
organizations. This ensures that leaders are made within the system and bear the core values of
the organization as well as the vision, objectives and the overall goal of the organizations.
However, he as well highlights the flaws of leaders and how they take advantages of the people
they lead by making policies and practices that only favor the organization and its stakeholders.
Therefore, leaders are exploitative and inspire people below with fallible talks to motivate them
to perform better. In so doing, they forget the main goal of organizations and that the human
resources are the best assets for the organization. Besides, to achieve higher performance is
effective production, the organization should establish a culture with a common understanding

Organizational Theory And Practice 9
and sense of belonging considering the social values of the employees such as beliefs, ideologies,
and values (Northouse 2018, p.15).

Besides, Morgan uses this metaphor to explain the public service as the order of
the day. He believes that employees are denied the chance by the organization of certain
privileges and rights as well as being forced to give their best efforts to the organizations.
Pfeffer, however, considered the advantages of constructing less autocratic systems, which are
depended on the leaders. He believes leaders should be elected in partnerships; employees should
be part of the owners such as cooperatives, and the leadership should have collective
representation like in labor organizations. Morgan believes that leaders are deceptive and serve
their interests (Schoeneborn, Vasquez and Cornelissen 2016, p.920). This can be linked with
Pfeffer argument that leaders keep telling untruths which is common from leaders to smooth
organizational relationship, gain an advantage in negotiations, build the image of the company to
the analysts, make sales as well as making positive impressions to keep supporters during times
of setbacks. The author uses social theory as evidence and logic that permits people to
understand the inevitable dilemmas and trade-offs faced by leaders in the real world. Therefore,
this makes modern leaders be effective in their tasks considerably as well as keeping jobs and
getting things done effectively. Pfeffer, therefore, dismantles the jargon-filled aphorisms of
current leadership and replaces them with fact-based prescriptions for how to succeed.’ This
seems pretty, but it is the truth.

Therefore, as Pfeffer points out in his book, “leaders fail the people, shows that in
the past decades, leadership industry has failed to improve the human condition in major,
meaningful or measurable way (70).” For instance, studies show that a significant number of
employees experience bullying at work which leads to stress, poor performance and

Organizational Theory And Practice 10
consequently affects both the physical and mental health negatively. The author believes that
leaders in modern life lie to get ahead and attain powerful positions and powerful people lie more
often with ease. Besides, researchers show that people’s behavior and attitudes are greatly
impacted by the situations they are embedded. Therefore, authentic leadership can impossibly
solve self-changes in response to the personal environment. Despite studies showing that people
view deception as gravest moral failings, modern leaders continue to lie to sort out
organizational problems and avoid conflict as well as tension.

The author tries to capture the postmodern feminism theory by incorporating the
post-structuralist theory and postmodern partly by seeing itself as moving beyond liberal
feminism to beyond modern polarities (Jaggar 2015, p.30). However, the inconsistency of
leadership industry has much to state regarding the professional progress of women. Virtually
every business school and organizations professionally develop and educate leaders as part of the
organizational mission (Katz, Lazarsfeld and Roper 2017, p.10). This makes sense as new
organizations consider gender equality in their professional operations. However, believes that
leadership development is failing as less percentage of senior managers from business school
effectively develops to global leaders. Also, there is a divergence in the interests of leaders and
those led and these different measures according to Pfeffer, these differences make leaders and
determine the organizational success.

In conclusion, despite the thriving leadership industry and tales of exploits by
heroes of the corporate leadership, most workplace leaders are average but not great. Pfeffer
questions whether recommendations of tradition such as being modest and humble are at odds to
stand with leadership traits as a measure of success and performing leaders in the workplace. For
instance, authentic leadership remains questionable according to Pfeffer, and the leader’s role is

Organizational Theory And Practice 11
to put aside the personal interests or preferences and mind or do the best for the team. It is
ironically leaders who serve their self-interest and constantly break the rule of trust are often
most rewarded with promotions and money.

Besides, the author questions the role of inspirational talks and charisma towards
effective leadership as he believes they do more harm than the benefits. His approach is great,
but he encourages thinking, and behaviors will get most employees sacked due to self-interests,
greedy and power and bullying leaders of modern organizations. The book has an interesting and
insightful approach to leadership industry that is scientific and establishes what it is, why and
builds up from there as well as preparing and planning for future life. Therefore, Pfeffer makes
good approach about the fantasy world that the leadership industry has developed versus the
actual world.


Burrell, G. and Morgan, G., 2017. Sociological paradigms and organisational analysis:
Elements of the sociology of corporate life. Routledge, pp.4-18.
Jaggar, A.M., 2015. Just methods: An interdisciplinary feminist reader. Routledge, pp.23-32.

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Katz, E., Lazarsfeld, P.F. and Roper, E., 2017. Personal influence: The part played by people in
the flow of mass communications. Routledge, pp.10-23.
Kim, J. and Hastak, M., 2018. Social network analysis. International Journal of Information
Management: The Journal for Information Professionals, 38(1), pp.86-96.
Northouse, P.G., 2018. Leadership: Theory and practice. Sage publications, pp.1-45.
Örtenblad, A., Putnam, L.L. and Trehan, K., 2016. Beyond Morgan’s eight metaphors: Adding to
and developing organization theory. Human Relations, 69(4), pp.875-889.
Pfeffer, J. (2015) Leadership BS: Fixing Workplaces and Careers One Truth at a Time. Harper-
Collins. Pp.1-97.
Ritzer, G. and Stepnisky, J., 2017. Modern sociological theory. SAGE Publications, pp.21-50.
Schoeneborn, D., Vasquez, C. and Cornelissen, J., 2016. Imagining organization through
metaphor and metonymy: Unpacking the process-entity paradox. Human Relations,
69(4), pp.915-944.
Watson, T.J., 2006. Organising and Managing Work: Organisational, managerial and strategic
behaviour in theory and practice. Pearson Education,pp.4-15.

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