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New Book: Leaders Who Lust

It might seem curious, but when we start writing a book such as this one, both of us know generally where we’re going and what we want to say, but not specifically, not exactly. In this case, we knew generally that despite its being completely ignored in the twenty-first-century leadership literature, lust has been of significance in the past and Screen Shot 2020-08-02 at 14.59.11was certain therefore to be of significance in the present.

But until we did the research, until we started putting flesh on the bones of our cases, we ourselves did not fully appreciate how much of a driver lust is. Nor did we fully appreciate the symbiosis between lust and leadership. Or that some leaders who lust are exceptional in part, certainly, precisely because of their lust. To reiterate, leaders who lust have a fire in their belly that is impossible to douse. Leaders who lust have a life force that is impossible to slow not to speak of stop.

And leaders who lust-have an appetite so enormous and relentless it is impossible ever fully to satisfy. Thus is lust a trait, or an attribute, or a characteristic that must be singled out.

It is leaders who lust who mostly make history.

About the Authors

Barbara Kellerman is James MacGregor Burns Lecturer in Public Leadership at the Harvard Kennedy School, USA, and Founding Executive Director of the school's Center for Public Leadership. She is the winner of the International Leadership Association Lifetime Achievement Award and has authored or edited many books and articles on leadership and followership.

Todd L. Pittinsky is a Professor at Stony Brook University (SUNY), USA, and Faculty Director of its College of Leadership and Service. He is also an Associate Faculty Fellow of the Hannah Arendt Center at Bard College, USA. Previously, he served on the faculties of the Harvard Kennedy School and Harvard Graduate School of Education.

Advanced Praise for Leaders Who Lust

“In this path-breaking book, one of the most perceptive and prolific scholars in leadership, Barbara Kellerman, teams up with one of the most talented and promising social scientists, Todd Pittinsky, to pierce an important veil. Instead of telling us what leaders should be like, we learn how they truly are. This is an eye-opening must read.”

David Gergen, White House Adviser to four US Presidents and founding Director of the Center for Public Leadership, Harvard Kennedy School

“This book paints an unforgettable picture of leaders with outsized appetites for power, money, sex, success, legitimacy, or legacy. Instead of treating leaders as one-dimensional paragons of either virtue or vice, the authors show them as human beings with strengths and weaknesses. The result is fascinating, beautifully written, and highly entertaining.”

Dennis Tourish, Professor of Leadership and Organization Studies, University of Sussex, UK, and editor of Leadership.

 “Leaders Who Lust is a great read. It offers a compelling contribution to our critical conversations about those who shape the course of human affairs. The authors achieve something entirely new and different.”

Margaret Shih, Professor of Management and Organizations, UCLA Anderson School of Management

“Is a never-ending desire for gratification a neglected leadership trait? Is lust a critical factor in explaining exceptional leadership? Making this provocative argument through a series of gripping biographical sketches, this book offers a host of refreshingly iconoclastic and original insights for scholars and  practitioners alike.”

Christopher Pietroni, Professor of Leadership Practice, University of Birmingham