The Cult of the Leader - A Manifesto for MoreAuthentic Business
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More About This Title The Cult of the Leader - A Manifesto for MoreAuthentic Business


A critical look at the way that business leadership has gone so badly wrong.

Modern business is obsessed with leaders. We talk about leadership all the time, but its real meaning is becoming more and more obscure. Recent corporate crises have shown that all too often, our leaders are missing in action when we need them most. In this groundbreaking and provocative new book, Chris Bones shows how we need to:

  • Restore trust and confidence
  • Be more realistic about what leaders can and can't do
  • Redefine talent
  • Revalue experience
  • Reconsider remuneration


Christopher Bones is Professor of Creativity and Leadership at Manchester Business School. He is also Dean Emeritus of Henley Business School. In the course of his 22 year career in business, he has worked at companies including Cadbury Schweppes, Shell and Diageo. He is also a highly-regarded public commentator on leadership, management and HR.

He is the author of one previous book The Self-Reliant Manager.


Acknowledgements ix

Introduction: The Gods that Failed 1

Part One: The Diagnosis 13

1. Practically perfect in every way: The making of the modern leader 15

2. Because we're worth it: The rise of the L'Oreal generation 44

3. Why didn't we see it coming? The loss of liability, stewardship and owner control 67

4. The public gets what the public wants: Values, confidence, trust and reputation in leadership 98

Part Two: The Solutions 125

5. The manifesto for a more authentic business 127

6. Diamonds on the soles of your shoes: The real war for talent 136

7. Moving from warm gestures to cold showers: A reframing of executive reward 166

8. Less is more: The future of leadership and its development in organizations 202

Conclusion: The importance of being earnest. The price of the cult and the value of leadership 229

Index 256