How Leaders Think

How leaders think determines what leaders do and how they do it. This book explores in depth how the best leaders think. The more you can think like the best leaders think, the more you can perform like the best leaders perform.

The twelve chapters in this intriguing yet practical book range from Being Up to Something… to Knowing What you Need to Know…to Imagination & Ingenuity…to Performing Leadership…and People-Making. Throughout, these are rich and rare perspectives. You will go back again and again to draw the insights offered in this book. It’s the kind of book that can change your life.

What Readers Say

"Incredibly insightful and practical. Helpful as a way of thinking about leadership, this is not a recipe. Builds on earlier works." ― Diane L Drewery


Leadership Virtuosity

In these 20 “lessons,” one of the world’s leading consultants ― Lee Thayer ― brings you the building blocks for becoming a virtuoso leader.

You will return again and again to the wisdom you can partake of here. You may be challenged, but rewarded all at the same time. As one reviewer put it, “The son of a gun made me think.” That’s what Dr. Thayer aims to do in this book. Becoming a virtuoso requires mastery of the basics. Beyond that, it requires a new and different way of thinking about the role of leader. This book provides that in a provocative but practical way ― as only the virtuoso executive coach and consultant Lee Thayer could do it.

What Readers Say

"Lee Thayer is one of the most important thinkers about leadership in the world today. Be prepared to have your assumptions questioned."― Guy Fincke

How Executives Fail

This little book is the only instruction book you’ll ever need about how to avoid failing by default. You’ll learn how to fail on purpose, with dash and aplomb. You’ll meet many familiar people—people you will immediately recognize—in these pages. Here and there, you might catch a glimpse of yourself.

What Readers Say

"There is nothing glib about the piercing insight this book offers. And while this is an easy read, meaning it is not dense with theory or case studies - it draws clear attention to unobvious wisdom from behaviors we all readily recognize in ourselves and others. The chapters literally beg you to take a deep-dive beneath the surface with a depth of thinking that will take you beyond the words on the page - and onto a journey of self-examination that anyone who is - or aspires to be an effective leader must take."― Philip Liebman

Leaders And Leadership 

In the West, and in America particularly, we have deep-seated beliefs in:

1. Evolution ― the idea that all things are constantly evolving in the “right” direction;

2. Progress ― the idea that whatever is newer is better, whether it is a “theory” or a technological tool; and

3. Consensus ― the idea that the more people who adopt a new idea or a new fashion in clothes or cars, the greater the likelihood that “they” are right.

So we go from a new fashion to the next new fashion. We believe that change is progress. And we have faith that the changes over which we have no control are taking us where we ought to be going ― since “evolving” is inevitable.

This book attempts to redress that flaw in our thinking.

Lee Thayer shows us in this book how to find the wisdom that could make a real difference in our lives and our businesses. Few would be more qualified to do so.

What Readers Say

"This is one of the MOST insightful books I have ever read on the subject of leaders and leadership. I have a habit of reading non-fiction books with a yellow highlighter in hand as I often return back to books I've read. Well this book is pretty much completely marked up with yellow highlighter. How is this book not a #1 best seller? After suffering through so many lackluster books on leadership, this one shines brightly. If you are in leadership position of ANY kind, you owe it to yourself, and to your team to buy this magnificent book NOW!― Derek Johnson

The Competent Organization

This book is about how the chief executive ― and everyone else directly involved ― needs to think about transforming an “okay” organization into a fully competent one.

Everyone would like to have a more competent organization. There is a lot of fairy dust out there about how to accomplish that the easy way. But there is no easy way… that works.

To customers and other stakeholders, it is the performance of the organization that matters. They could care less about promises that are only sometimes kept. They expect performance.

What Readers Say

Dr. Lee Thayer is clearly one of the brightest and innovative thinkers on Leadership. It is very comfortable for me to say that he not only "Gets-It", but that he "Conceptualizes it" and makes it internal. This is not just another checklist "receipe book". You'll need to read carefully, digest then be moved to your own actions. This does, better than anyother book, hit the "essence of leadership" and what it takes to accomplish it." ― Richard Shorten

Leadership:Thinking, Being, Doing

Here is a book on leadership like no other.

It begins by announcing that: "You can't learn to be a 'leader.' ... All you can do is be prepared if you are 'called' to provide leadership." So begins Lee Thayer's relentless assault on conventional thinking ... which, he tells us, will "always and inevitably lead to conventional results."

From his initial "stretching exercises" for your mind, he offers a detailed guidebook for making sure you're prepared when your leadership opportunity arrives. The underpinning of his method boils down to this statement: "As you think, so will you be. And as you are, so will you do." He warns at the outset that much of what he's learned over four-plus decades of working with CEOs to build high-performance organizations may seem counter-intuitive and that the journey is "more difficult than you can imagine." But he also notes, "If your learning journey is not fun and exciting, it will not bear fruit." So along the way you'll learn how to "slay dragons" and "overcome perversity" -- especially your own. And in the process, you'll acquire the habits of thinking, being, and doing that prepare you perform the leadership roles that come your way.

Readers' Comment

"I am a recent technology startup founder here (in my 30's) and I can't tell you how much I've learned from this book. If you think you know what it takes to be a leader, you're probably wrong. This has changed my way of thinking and in many ways, validated the way I do things as an evolving leader and team player. This book is rather long (around 400 pages) and it took me a month to read but it is material you will take with you wherever you go."― S. Pedroso

The Myth of...THE LEADER

"People create and sustain myths to explain what they cannot ― or do not ― comprehend. They sometimes create myths to make simple what would otherwise strike them as being too complex to bear in mind. Thus we have our ancient gods and our contemporary celebrities, and the fairy tales that “explain” them.


But there is never one cause for what happens ― no matter how much we might treasure our formulaic myths. Anything that happens has many seen and unseen “causes.” Leadership is an ideal example. We conceive of our leaders as the cause of how things turn out. If things turn out badly, we blame them. If they turn out well, we elevate them to celebrity-hood. This is fairy-tale thinking. The hard truth is that our leaders cannot be any more competent in their role than we are in ours. Even then our leaders do not control the outcomes. We are following a dangerous path in the way we think about our leaders in this culture. We need to be able to distinguish between real leaders and counterfeit leaders. This book reveals how to do that. This book powerfully and insightfully unveils the myth of “the leader.”"

What Readers Say

"Thayer has been writing quite a few new books these days. They are all worth carefully studying and this one is not to be missed. In this book, Thayer focuses on how we mythologize leaders and how we do so will have consequences for us. Along the way, he opens up ideas of Communication, Self-Mastery, Explaining Things, Systems and, of course, "Leaders" and Leadership. He provides a plethora of examples and quotations from a rich source of writers and thinkers. This is well-worth reading and re-reading."― Amazon Customer Review

The Good Leader

There have been many thousands of books and seminars on the subject of leaders and leadership over the past few decades. Most make no effort to explain that leadership is amoral. It is a power over others that can be used for good or for ill. People are subjected to all kinds of abuse by their “leaders” ― organizationally, politically, and as children being poorly “led” by their parents and teachers.


The original concept of leadership was that it would be used for good purposes ― that those who purported to be “leaders” would have virtues that would necessarily be good for people, for their communities, and for the larger culture. This is obviously no longer the case. There has been plenty of talk about “successful” leaders. But “successful” leaders are not necessarily GOOD leaders. Merely “making the numbers” or being successful in some quantitative way does not imply good leadership.


This book, which has already attracted wide attention because it is so outspoken, unpacks the concept of leadership. Once one knows how to do this, identifying the good from the bad becomes much easier. The benefits to all of us as individuals and to the world we all share can be remarkable. It is time to stop idolizing our “leaders.” It is time to call them to task. It is time to help them become what they should be. The Good Leader can do this for them ― and for you.

What Readers Say

"A well kept secret.Thayer at his best!"― Terry S. Slinde


"This splendid little “pocket” book will tell all of you leaders (“oracle”-style) what you need to know about communication to enhance your everyday performance and thus enable your success. In 53 succinct chapters, this pocket oracle sets forth the basic issues you absolutely need to understand from a highly pragmatic point of view. It is not derived from theories but from the author’s 45+ years as a CEO coach and consultant. What the author shares with you is what he has learned over all of those years, thousands of presentations, and being “in the trenches” with his client CEOs to partner with them in making thoroughly competent or high performance organizations.


On a day-to-day basis, this book is about how to succeed personally if you are the leader. There is nothing more basic and more crucial for your success than the communication that occurs daily in your office, in the hallways, in your head, or in front of customers. It will become your daily guidebook for understanding this most problematic of every leader’s life. It may take you where you have never gone before. But where you need to go in your thinking and doing."

Readers' Comment

"One thing Lee always does is make me think and reflect. With his writings one stays in the learning mode. Each chapter a nugget of wisdom on which to ponder and reflect."― Ozzie Gontang

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Making Competent Organizations

Travel where you will in today's America, and you're likely to be drawn into a conversation about mistreatment by one or more of today's organizations. Someone ordered something. But when the order came it wasn't what they ordered. That was two years ago and still ongoing. Or Your call is very important to us. That's why you're number 19 in the queue. Doctors and hospitals make mistakes. Only a few are really fatal. But they have insurance for that.


Will you get what you want from an organization? It may depend upon whom in the organizations you're talking to. An organizations marketing is not an organizations performance. Its just talk.


Organizations live and die by their deeds. This book tells you how.

Malfunctions in organizations are ubiquitous. They occur in every kind of organization of every size. Why is that? How do you avoid falling victim to the conventional, to mediocrity? This book can be your guide.

Add to that the fact that highly paid CEOs are often frustrated by the performance of their own organizations. That's one reason for their ever-shortening tenure in that role. They are often disgruntled by the performance of their own executives and managers. And those employees are often openly dissatisfied with the organizations where they work.

Even after thousands of books and many thousands of conferences since the 1970's, our organizations don't seem to be doing much better.


Here is that rare book that tells you how to perform in the real world. This book addresses those problems head-on. It addresses the sources (not the symptoms) of organizational dysfunctions.


Regardless of title, you won't find elsewhere a better guide to making competent organizations, which is where the problems lie.


This book is about how you, the CEO or CEO aspirant, need to think about what needs thinking about, for how you think about what needs thinking about will determine who you are. And who you are determines what you can and cannot do about making yours a fully functioning, competent organization. Just reading about it is not of much help. Aristotle said many years ago, What you must learn, you must learn by doing. This book is unique; it tells you how to do just that.

What Readers Say

"This book and Lee Thayer’s other books are game changers for anyone who is in business as a boss or as a manager.