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Richard Daft The NeuroLeadership Summit

The Executive and the Elephant: A Leader's Guide for Building Inner Excellence

Richard DaftRichard Daft

Do you have a "monkey mind?" With a little practice, your inner executive will learn to choose correct actions rather than let your unwanted behaviors have their way.

Last October, TotalPicture Radio participated in Rethinking Leadership: The 2010 NeuroLeadership Summit, held in Boston, MA. I was fortunate to have recorded many timely â€” and timeless interviews at the Summit. A number of these you'll find in the Leadership Channel on TotalPicture Radio, including Summit organizers David Rock and Al Ringlab.

Kevin Ochsner told us about The Formation of Habit Deborah Ancona, author of The X Teams discussed her theory of Distributed Leadership; in our interview, Ellen J. Langer reveals The Power of Possibility; and Sheena Iyengar, a thought-provoking podcast on The Art of Choosing. 

Then, as late November, the cold blast and distractions of the holiday season arrived, I chose to wait. Over the next few weeks, we will release more gems from the NeuroLeadership Summit.

Starting today, with Richard L. Daft, Professor of Management at Vanderbilt University. A noted expert in organization behavior and organization design, Professor Daft has published 12 books, dozens of articles, and presented at more than 45 universities around the world. He also developed and managed the Center for Change Leadership, and is a Fellow of the Academy of Management.

In our interview, we discuss his latest book, The Executive and the Elephant: A Leader's Guide for Building Inner Excellence (Amazon link). "Inner excellence means removing the personal flaw that is holding you back as a leader—such as procrastination, avoiding confrontation, a short attention span, perfectionism, tactless remarks, weak resolve, overreacting, criticizing, chasing the wrong gratifications, or not following though."


Kings, heads of government, and corporate executives lead thousands of people and manage endless resources, but may not have mastery over themselves. Often leaders know that right action is important, but have little (if any) understanding of what prevents them from acting in accordance with their intentions. In this important book, leadership expert Richard Daft portrays this dilemma as a struggle between instinct (elephant) and intention (the executive) using the most current research on the intentional vs. the habitual mind to explain how this phenomenon occurs.

Through compelling real-life coaching examples of dramatic personal changes, along with recent findings in psychology, management, neuroscience, and Eastern spirituality, Richard Daft provides guidance to all of us who want to follow our best intentions when leading ourselves and others.

Peter Clayton

About Peter Clayton

Peter Clayton, Producer/Host, is an award-winning producer/director of radio, television, documentary, video, interactive and Web-based media who has created breakthrough media for a wide array of Fortune 100 clients.


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