02/09/2019 by EconTalk: Russ Roberts
Can a great leader or manager be humble in public? Or is exuding confidence, even when it may not be merited, a key part of leadership? In this episode of EconTalk, host Russ Roberts talks with David Deppner, CEO of Psyberware, about an email David sent Russ wondering how Russ might reconcile his passion for humility and honesty with the demands put upon leaders to inspire followers with confidence in their vision.
Listen Date: early November 2019
- There is very little to write about here because everything in the podcast seemed so self-evident and it had been my main cynical response to Roberts’ running theme of acting with humility. As an economist, sure, but as an entrepreneur (or even a salesman) you need that little bit of arrogance just to be functional. You could maintain a level of detachment and pretend to know it all, telling yourself that it’s part of the job, but I suspect that the arrogance is easier.
- I don’t remember if it was this particular episode which triggered this chain of thought but maybe it was the bit about the employee who needed that certainty rather than the truth that got me thinking bitterly about how a Vulcan, Spocklike approach would have helped the truth go down easier. Of course, it’s futile to complain that human beings aren’t Spock, but I think it does show that the process of becoming more Spocklike is a virtue.
- And, in fact, preferring truth over comfort and confidence is so rare that fictional characters are created to highlight its oddness – Sherlock Holmes as the original, perhaps, but out of all the adaptations, House really dialed up that aspect. (Compare with: the Doctor lies.) And then the BBC 21st century Sherlock continued in that vein. I’m also reminded of the end of Agatha Christie’s The Hollow, where Poirot tells the sculptor that the murder victim’s child will want the truth more than comfort.