In the last decade, incompetent leadership has done more to change the face of our world than perhaps in any other time in history. Recent events like Hurricane Katrina and the war in Iraq have proven that blind faith in our rulers is more than foolish - it can be downright dangerous. The world has grown more complicated and more volatile, and making intelligent decisions about the people in charge has never been more crucial. What causes us to follow bad leaders and how can we stop it? The answer is simple: If we want better leaders, we need to become better informed and more demanding followers. Won’t Get Fooled Again is an eye-opening look at the politicians and other public servants who promise too much and deliver too little. Using extensive research and solid evidence, author Joseph Boyett reveals:
• why we need leaders in the first place
• how to tell if a leader is authentic
• the top four red flags that your leader’s vision is flawed
• why “wishy-washy” candidates and “flip floppers” can make the best leaders.
Timely and revelatory, this is the one book that will change the way we vote, the way we see the world, and who we trust.
|Product dimensions:||5.25(w) x 6.75(h) x 0.50(d)|
About the Author
JOSEPH H. BOYETT holds a Ph.D. in political science and is a respected international leadership consultant. He is cofounder of Boyett & Associates and the author of many books including The Guru Guide.
Read an Excerpt
If incompetence were all we had to worry about when it came
to bad political leaders, we could count ourselves lucky. But bad
leaders are frequently dangerous, even deadly. Just ask the survivors of
America’s Katrina disaster about the amount of damage incompetent
leadership can cause.
The world is no longer a simple place. It is interconnected, unpredictable,
and speeding toward who knows where. Events seem out of control,
and to a large extent they are.
It wasn’t always that way.
Even after the great wars of this past century, our parents inherited at
least a short period of stability. They knew who they were and where they
were going, and they had confidence in their ability to get there. They may
not have always liked their presidents, but overall they trusted them. There
were rules of behavior and expectations to be met. They could place reasonable
trust in their leaders. In contrast, our children and grandchildren
are inheriting a world where chaos, crisis, and change seem to be their
only future and where at least healthy skepticism, if not outright distrust,
We are living in a world where right and wrong are not polar opposites
but only shades of difference. Thinking is required. The seemingly
obvious course of action is often wrong. What’s certain on the surface is
often an illusion. Dogma leads to despair. We are living in an age when
measured action is a necessity. Intelligence isn’t a luxury. We’ve used up
our stupid quotient. It is time to get it right. We must cast away all the
things that get in the way of knowledge.We must set our sights on a higher
purpose built upon facts, science, and just plain smarts. We need to
educate the young to be devoted to knowledge and not superstition, to
enlightenment and not ignorance, to inclusion and not rejection, to reality
and not blind faith. We need to believe in ourselves. We need leaders
who measure up.We must demand more of those who say, ”Follow me.”
We must ask, “Why?”And we must insist on an answer based on truth, not
empty rhetoric. Don’t just tell us that the torch has been passed to a new
generation. Tell us what you intend to do with the torch. Words aren’t
enough.We want a clear and practical path to tomorrow.
We need better leaders, but we aren’t going to get them until we
become smarter and more demanding followers.We just aren’t getting the
quality leadership we deserve. That needs to change. It’s time to send a
message to corrupt politicians, incompetent bureaucrats, and all those
who assume power and then abuse it that we won’t take their failures and
betrayal anymore.Most of the time, most of us are followers, not leaders.
Many leaders assume that people who follow are weak and dependent.
They pump themselves up and parade before us, as if they are somehow
better than we are. Books celebrate their leadership. The media glorifies
them.We say, “Bull!”
Leaders don’t have the ultimate power; followers do.Without followers,
leaders cannot lead. They can’t even call themselves leaders. As Bryan
Wilson, author of The Noble Savages, put it, “If a man runs naked down
the street proclaiming that he alone can save others from impending
doom, and if he immediately wins a following, then he is a charismatic
leader. A social relationship has come into being. If he does not win a following,
he is simply a lunatic.”1 The point is that leadership occurs not in
the leader, or among the followers for that matter, but in the social and
psychological intersection where leader and followers meet. That knowledge
can, and should, be empowering for followers everywhere. Leaders
can’t exist without us.
My message is simple. If we want better leaders, we must become
more informed and more demanding followers. It’s time to put aside permanently
some erroneous ideas, such as the notions that followers are
weak and leaders are strong, that followers need leaders more than leaders
need followers, and that followers need heroes to save them from all
manner of calamities. It’s time for followers to sit at the banquet table and
for leaders to serve. We must say to the contenders for high office, “It is
not enough for you just to be a savvy politician.We’re on to your tricks of
persuasion. We are looking for real leadership that goes beyond a crafty
façade, skilled image management, and manipulation of opinion. We
want to know what lies below the surface of your fancy words. We are
looking for substance, not superficiality.”
If you are sick of being misled by politicians who promise much and
deliver little, this book is for you.
If you are tired of being seduced by the imagery of false prophets and
tricked by those who exploit corrupt influence for personal gain, this book
is for you.
If you are tired of leaders enriching themselves at your expense, this
book is for you.
If you are tired of voting for change and getting only more of the
same, this book is for you.
If you are tired of members of Congress and the president putting
politics ahead of voters’ concerns and the country’s needs, this book is for
If you are ready to make your president, governor, mayor, senator, and
all those others who proclaim they are “in charge,” your servant rather
than your savior, this book is for you.
I’ve spent much of the last five years researching the social psychology
of political persuasion and leader–follower relationships. Based on that
research, if I were to offer one basic piece of advice to followers everywhere,
it would be this: Treat every person who presents himself or herself
to you as a potential leader with the utmost suspicion. Keep alive and well
that small voice in the back of your head that whispers,“Proceed with caution.”
Approach every leader with a healthy dose of skepticism. The politician
who seems so attractive may have your best interest at heart, but
don’t count on it. You are probably dealing with a power-hungry incompetent—
The key messages of this book are harsh ones. First, all of us would
like our political leaders to be unfailingly honest, trustworthy, and, most
important, capable. Sadly, most aren’t. Added to the infamous tyrants,
incompetent bureaucrats, shady politicians, corrupt officials, and lackluster
presidents are statistics that flash caution in neon.
In a 2006 Zogby poll, only 3 percent of American voters said they
thought Congress was trustworthy and only 29 percent trusted the
nation’s courts. Three out of four Americans said that trust in their government
had declined over the last five years.2 In a December 2006
Rasmussen Reports survey, only 16 percent of voters thought their government
reflected the will of the people, down from 30 percent in the
1990s.3 And in a 2006 Gallup Poll on honesty and ethics, members of
Congress ranked only a little above car salesmen.4
Governors were the most respected public officials in the Gallup poll,
but they were rated high or very high by only 22 percent of voters, and an
even greater number (26 percent) rated them low or very low on ethics.5
A study examining the personal popularity of presidential candidates
from 1952 to 2000, based on the American National Election Studies survey
data, found a sharp decline in the public’s assessment of the candidates’
overall integrity, reliability, competence, charisma, and appearance.
The researchers noted that the survey results confirmed a general “decline
in the public regard for American leaders’ personal qualifications for the
presidency,” with only half of the candidates since 1972 receiving more
positive than negative ratings. They concluded that “the more Americans
have seen of their top leaders up close and personal, the less they liked
them as individuals.”6 By most estimates 60 to 75 percent of leaders,
regardless of sector, are incompetent or worse.7
A second harsh truth is that we are to blame for the lack of leadership.
To the extent that we choose our leaders by voting for them, signing on to
their cause, joining their groups, contributing to their campaigns, or just
acquiescing to their accumulation of power, we get the quality of leader
we choose. Unfortunately, we give too little attention to the important
task of leader selection. Often we don’t even recognize the bad leader until
it’s too late. Even then, we excuse our choice. How could we have known
that he would turn out to be so corrupt or incompetent?
Followers really determine how successful a
leader will be. —Max De Pree, Leadership Jazz (New
York: Dell, 1992), p. 23.
Most of us do a poor job of following. It is not that we refuse to follow.
In fact, we follow too willingly.We are relatively naïve when it comes
to picking our leaders. We are all too ready to accept and give unquestioning
allegiance to the president, governor, pastor, or other authority figure who
presents herself to us as a leader. Most of us are unaware or
only vaguely aware of the tools, techniques, and general tricks of the leadership
The typical follower is like the uninformed consumer left defenseless
before the artful persuader. Sellers are taught to sell. Consumers are rarely
taught how to consume intelligently. The same is true of leadership and
followership. Leaders are taught to lead. Followers are rarely taught to follow.
A search in Books In Print for books on leadership turns up thousands
upon thousands. A search for books on following yields very few. Search
for a course on leadership at your local college or university, and you will
find many. Search for a course on followership, and you will probably find
none. The books and courses on followership that do exist make matters
worse by teaching you how to be a “good” follower rather than a savvy,
tough, and questioning one. Given this lack of instruction, it’s little wonder
we are easily taken in by those whose primary goal isn’t our welfare
but access to the power and influence they can use for their own purposes.
This book is intended to change the balance of power between leader
and follower by providing the knowledge base for intelligent following.
Regardless of when or under what conditions you read this book, you
will be called on to make a decision in the not too distant future.Which
leader will you follow? Your choices may be wide or limited. Regardless of
whom you choose, the impact of your decision will matter, not just to you
but to your loved ones, to your community, and to society as a whole.
Many people are working hard right now to orchestrate your choice of
leader. They are employing sophisticated psychological techniques. My
purpose in writing this book is to empower you with the knowledge to
push back against those who would manipulate your choice of leader. This
book is designed to put you in charge of the leader–follower relationship.
It has been said that the best way to avoid being conned is to know
your vulnerability to the con game and the tricks the con artist uses to
sucker you in. Likewise, the best way to avoid bad leaders is to understand
your vulnerability to them and the tricks leaders use to exercise power and
influence over you. This book teaches you those tricks. It shows you how
to protect yourself from incompetent presidents, unsavory politicians,
and bad leaders in general by teaching you how to become an intelligent
follower. In Chapter 1, we start our journey toward intelligent followership
with a simple question that has a complex answer:Why do we follow
Before we do, however, let me make one more point. This book is
about intelligent following and what we have to do to get better leaders,
the kind of leaders we deserve. But it is also about something else: liberty.
Benjamin Franklin wrote:
Democracy is two wolves and a small lamb voting
on what to have for dinner. Liberty is a
well-armed lamb contesting the vote.8
When it comes to our leaders, all too often most of us are small lambs.
It is time for us to become well-armed lambs.
Table of Contents
The Motivation to Follow 7
The Good and Bad Motivation to Lead 15
The Dark Side of Leadership 29
Leadership Is Acting 47
The Mundane Leadership Job of Crafting a Vision 61
Evaluating the Leader-The Values Test 85
Evaluating the Leader-The Reality Test 107
Evaluating the Leader-The Facts Test 135
Rhetoric, Propaganda, and Damn Lies 163
Inconsistent, Disrespectful, and Skeptical Social Mavericks Make the Best Followers 189
Wishy-Washy Flip-Floppers Make the Best Leaders 207
Strategies for Intelligent Leading and Following 223