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The Leadership Crisis and the Free Market Cure: Why the Future of Business Depends on the Return to Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness

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The highly anticipated follow up to The Financial Crisis and the Free Market Cure--the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, and Washington Post bestseller The Leadership Crisis and the Free Market Cure reveals the integrated principles he sees as critical to the success of any leader--all of which are modern day reflections of the American Founders' concept of life, liberty The highly anticipated follow up to The Financial Crisis and the Free Market Cure--the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, and Washington Post bestseller The Leadership Crisis and the Free Market Cure reveals the integrated principles he sees as critical to the success of any leader--all of which are modern day reflections of the American Founders' concept of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. John Allison believes many of the problems in our economy are the direct result of leaders who have lost a sense of purpose in themselves and in their organization. Basing his conclusions on libertarian and Objectivist philosophy, Allison describes the values today's leaders must follow, which should guide decision making at the individual, corporate, and public policy level. He shares his real-world experience growing BB&T into the tenth largest financial services holding company in the U.S. John Allison is the author of The Financial Crisis and the Free Market Cure, CEO of the Cato Institute, and retired Chairman and CEO of BB&T Corporation.


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The highly anticipated follow up to The Financial Crisis and the Free Market Cure--the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, and Washington Post bestseller The Leadership Crisis and the Free Market Cure reveals the integrated principles he sees as critical to the success of any leader--all of which are modern day reflections of the American Founders' concept of life, liberty The highly anticipated follow up to The Financial Crisis and the Free Market Cure--the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, and Washington Post bestseller The Leadership Crisis and the Free Market Cure reveals the integrated principles he sees as critical to the success of any leader--all of which are modern day reflections of the American Founders' concept of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. John Allison believes many of the problems in our economy are the direct result of leaders who have lost a sense of purpose in themselves and in their organization. Basing his conclusions on libertarian and Objectivist philosophy, Allison describes the values today's leaders must follow, which should guide decision making at the individual, corporate, and public policy level. He shares his real-world experience growing BB&T into the tenth largest financial services holding company in the U.S. John Allison is the author of The Financial Crisis and the Free Market Cure, CEO of the Cato Institute, and retired Chairman and CEO of BB&T Corporation.

30 review for The Leadership Crisis and the Free Market Cure: Why the Future of Business Depends on the Return to Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness

  1. 4 out of 5

    Patrick Peterson

    Very, very good. Exceptional actually. Allison calls them as he sees them, and he sees them super clearly. To give you some idea of his business acumen and accomplishments, for the 20 years he was CEO of BB&T, the bank had an average 20% ROI. The bank's assets grew from $4.5 billion to $152 billion (1989-2008). Not one single quarterly loss, even during the 2008-9 financial crisis. THAT is amazing. Here's one short clip: In his chapter one: "Vision" he states: "The Google symbol visualizes a free, Very, very good. Exceptional actually. Allison calls them as he sees them, and he sees them super clearly. To give you some idea of his business acumen and accomplishments, for the 20 years he was CEO of BB&T, the bank had an average 20% ROI. The bank's assets grew from $4.5 billion to $152 billion (1989-2008). Not one single quarterly loss, even during the 2008-9 financial crisis. THAT is amazing. Here's one short clip: In his chapter one: "Vision" he states: "The Google symbol visualizes a free, open, and transparent exchange of information across all types of borders. In a way, it is a symbol of individual liberty. Governments with repressive tendencies, China for example, often act to stop the flow of information on Google because the truth threatens the false story they want their population to believe." Another clip from that same chapter: "Walmart has a compelling vision: low prices and excellent variety. In my opinion, the retailer has done more to improve the quality of life for low-income people than all the government welfare programs put together." He also nails some foolish moves: 1. Bank of America's drive to be the biggest bank, not the best bank, and the results that engendered. 2. Bill Gates stepping down from Microsoft leadership to run his foundation and the results of that. Chapter two: "Purpose" is cool: "The organizing principle of human action is purpose." Not referenced right here, but other places in the book, I'll bet he got that idea from Ayn Rand and Ludwig Mises. Both these authors are indeed referenced very favorably throughout the book. No wonder why I like it. They are the two authors who's ideas I respect the most. "Business is noble work. Those of you in business should never apologize for being in business. Never apologize for making a profit." Lots more good stuff - but this sampling might give you a fair idea. One of the surprises in the book for me was the emphasis the author gave to psychology and the importance of individuals becoming more self-aware. This was so important, in fact, that he guided the bank in its extensive internal use and later purchase and integration of a psychological development company. Such clear, compelling guideposts for individuals, and additionally the organizations and society they compose. Understand and follow these and you get to a better, happier and more productive world. A world where everyone can flourish, and what could be better than that? I have been discussing many of the lessons with my wife and we both agree that the basic values (explained in chapters 3-12): Reality Reason Independent Thinking Productivity (Profitability) Honesty Integrity Justice Pride Self-Esteem (Self-Motivation) Teamwork all correspond with our business (over 70 years combined) and life experiences too. Part Two of the book takes these values and applies them to leadership skills for Personal, Organizational and Societal Greatness. I have been studying how America became as great as it has for over 40 years and have come to virtually the same conclusions. This book is very clear about how the USA has done so well by adhering to the values outlined above and fallen away from greatness, to the extent it has veered from those values. I sure hope this book gets into many people's hands, minds and actions. This is because the world I enjoy living in, and think most everyone who honestly considers these ideas does too, is one that shares these values and the wonderful outcomes that result.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Dwayne Roberts

    Fair. Not written by a pro. Often repeated Objectivist writers, using their same examples and wording.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Ashley Maden

    Although the principles and values are probably somewhat common sense to most people who decide to read this book, there are well phrased gems of insight throughout that are great reminders of the founding principles of the United States and why protecting our liberties are so important. I appreciate Allison’s attention to creating a transparent and productive organizational culture, as well as the insights he offers to the priorities of a merger and how important it is to take care of the emplo Although the principles and values are probably somewhat common sense to most people who decide to read this book, there are well phrased gems of insight throughout that are great reminders of the founding principles of the United States and why protecting our liberties are so important. I appreciate Allison’s attention to creating a transparent and productive organizational culture, as well as the insights he offers to the priorities of a merger and how important it is to take care of the employees on both sides of the merger and how uncertainty and lack of transparency throughout the organization are the biggest contributors of unhappiness for employees. I also appreciate the emphasis on ensuring employees are well versed in the goals of the organization, how their role contributes to the organization’s goals and how important it is that employees are given enough support and training to effectively do their job and be able to communicate problems to those who can solve them within the organization.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Paul

    If John Allison were your uncle, or your CEO, you would probably consider him a wise and serious man. Maybe even erudite – he quotes Aristotle! You might encourage him to write a book to share his insights with the wider world. The wider world, on reading his book, might be less impressed. John Allison is surely a fine man, but this is an odd book. Sort of a Stephen Covey meets Ayn Rand and channels Jack Welsh. It is certainly unlike any other book I’ve read by a Cato Institute author. Part One is If John Allison were your uncle, or your CEO, you would probably consider him a wise and serious man. Maybe even erudite – he quotes Aristotle! You might encourage him to write a book to share his insights with the wider world. The wider world, on reading his book, might be less impressed. John Allison is surely a fine man, but this is an odd book. Sort of a Stephen Covey meets Ayn Rand and channels Jack Welsh. It is certainly unlike any other book I’ve read by a Cato Institute author. Part One is his version of the Seven Habits, except he calls them principles, and there are ten not seven. Nothing particularly to disagree with here, but it does all come off as a little trite. Just as an example, chew on this: “In a broad context, there is a balancing act between planning, thinking, and doing. Productive individuals do plan and think, but they also act. The action can be an intangible such as speech, but it is an action. There is a tendency by some individuals to overanalyze and procrastinate. Others may act without thinking. To be productive in most responsibilities requires thinking, planning and acting. In teams, as will be discussed, it is often desirable to include individuals who have a bias to analyze and some with a bias for action. However, the goal is to get the job done, to produce.” Maybe he just needs a ghostwriter, or a different one. If you were discussing his ideas over a beer, you may well agree with all he has to say (I agreed with most of it), but on the page they seem less than earth-shattering. And then there is the grating business-speak. How about this one (new even to me): “Let me concretize this concept with a story from BB&T.” Concretize??? Merriam Webster says the first known use of the word was in 1884. Feels more like 1984 to me. Or: “’Reach’ goals incent a higher level of motivation. Easy goals can disincent high-performance results.” Merriam Webster says the definition of “incent” is “incentivize”, and the first known use of the word is 1981. “Disincent” doesn’t even pass the spell-check. Part Two is where he gives his lessons from 20 years as CEO of BB&T. Again, the lessons he relates seem valid enough, but not novel: people are a company’s most important asset, employees need to be educated in the company’s strategy and then empowered, decisions should be made close to the customer where the decision maker has the best insight. Etc. BB&T made successful acquisitions by focusing on win-win partnerships: “To the degree practical, win-lose or lose-win partnerships should be avoided because they are likely to fail.” Glad he told me that! Allison’s philosophy is decidedly Randian. He is a libertarian advocate of free-markets and minimal government and abhors with an industry insider’s familiarity the cozy rent-seeking relationships between government and big business that led to the 2008 financial crisis and have only gotten worse since. I like him. But the book will probably not convince a non-believer. Take heart though – at least you’re not a member of BB&T’s Board: “I asked all members of BB&T executive management to read both The Theory of Money and Credit and Human Action [both by Ludwig von Mises, the Austrian economist] and gave copies to our Board members.” As someone who has slogged through both of those doorstops, I can vouch that this book is an easier read.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Nathan

    The author presents a rational value system for human flourishing and applies the philosophy consistently and with equal clarity to individuals, businesses/organizations, and society as a whole. The author speaks from experience, having led a life of long term success and positive relationships, and he has helped to clarify and bring to consciousness my own values and my own path to happiness. This book has given me that much more confidence, purpose, and clarity in how I will live my life going The author presents a rational value system for human flourishing and applies the philosophy consistently and with equal clarity to individuals, businesses/organizations, and society as a whole. The author speaks from experience, having led a life of long term success and positive relationships, and he has helped to clarify and bring to consciousness my own values and my own path to happiness. This book has given me that much more confidence, purpose, and clarity in how I will live my life going forward. Pursuing happiness and success is using your best judgment and rationality to make the right decisions based on your values. We all do this to a degree, but the more clarity we have in our values and the more we can integrate those values into our lives, relationships, and societal goals, the more equipped we are to make decisions that are in our best interest. Anything that will help to clarify human values through rationality and critical thinking (as opposed to through edict) is invaluable, as it will help give us a deep rooted confidence and self esteem that is only possible when our actions are consistent with our moral values and our perception of reality. Be wary of value systems that are impossible to integrate into our lives without compromise, such as the moral ideals of sacrifice, collectivism, and statism. The reason no one can live up to these standards fully, is that they are inconsistent with reality and the actual requirements of human flourishing (freedom and self-interest).

  6. 5 out of 5

    Heike

    An exceptional book by an exceptional author. Allison's explanations of his principles in life which are mainly based on Aristotle and Ayn Rand and the connections he makes to a free society are tremendously inspirational. Looking at BB&T and the Cato Institute, one can see and understand how these principles shaped both organizations entirely. If you haven't read it, you definitely should. An exceptional book by an exceptional author. Allison's explanations of his principles in life which are mainly based on Aristotle and Ayn Rand and the connections he makes to a free society are tremendously inspirational. Looking at BB&T and the Cato Institute, one can see and understand how these principles shaped both organizations entirely. If you haven't read it, you definitely should.

  7. 5 out of 5

    John Vincent

    An excellent leadership guide for businessmen based on a philosophy of Individualism and reason.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Salo Smith

    great cool book

  9. 4 out of 5

    Ron Housley

    The Leadership Crisis and the Free Market (a short book report by Ron Housley) What does a successful CEO look like when you dig into his story? We might expect to see in a Napoleon Hill type of account, detailing the elements behind a successful businessman, except here we see it with a uniquely Objectivist overlay. Around the core of Allison’s personal business exploits, we discover how the principles of business success correlate with the principles of personal success as well as the principles The Leadership Crisis and the Free Market (a short book report by Ron Housley) What does a successful CEO look like when you dig into his story? We might expect to see in a Napoleon Hill type of account, detailing the elements behind a successful businessman, except here we see it with a uniquely Objectivist overlay. Around the core of Allison’s personal business exploits, we discover how the principles of business success correlate with the principles of personal success as well as the principles of political success. Just like “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness” is a vision for government, in Allison’s world it is a vision for business and personal success, as well. Sad it is that so few government bureaucrats will ever see this book. But even if they had a copy in their homes, they wouldn’t read it. These are among the vast hoards among us who fail to fully employ reason in determining a course of action. A few times during these 200 pages Allison pointed out the connection between “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness” as a political vision to it role in supporting a business vision — and its role in allowing human prospering. Allison preaches to us: “People cannot act consistently with inconsistent goals or values.” And then he shows us enough examples of inconsistency run amok that we can grasp the wisdom of his perspective. Some of it we’ve heard before in self-help books; we’ve even heard it in years gone by from Peter Drucker. But this may be the first time we’re hearing it with the altruism stripped away, without that veneer of mainstream “wisdom.” So, Allison is all about encouraging a consistency in the application of virtuous behaviors among businessmen, among government representatives, among all of us. And how unusual is it for someone to point out that dishonesty is a requirement for inconsistency; that honesty boils down to being disconnected from reality at some level. We don’t usually see honesty discussed in those terms. It is that fundamental dishonesty, Allison would claim, that allows us to entertain the notion of “the common good.” But there is no such thing as “the common good.” That can never be said loud enough, nor said enough times! And yet, rarely does a day go by when I don’t hear somebody agitating that some issue or other has to be solved by forcing some people to act for “the common good,” — as if nobody’s liberty were going to be trampled in the process. The whole scam of “the common good” (aka “the public interest”) would fall apart if honesty, integrity and justice were required instead of coercion to extract a forced favor from some citizens. We’ve all noticed how our political adversaries maintain a barrier against actually hearing what we have to say, beyond the noise that our words make. I could just feel the walls shaking as, time after time, Allison drew parallels between a great business practice on the one hand and a certain political view, on the other. A couple of times the parallels were so obvious that only an outright “La La La La, I can’t HEAR you!” could result in an unchanged mind. Sadly, our culture is full of “La La La La, I can’t HEAR you.” Allison is in the camp which feels that we are in a war for the future of Western civilization. I agree with him. We prosper, or not, according to the ideas that our culture embraces. As dishonesty flourishes, as our leaders continue embracing inconsistencies, as “the common good” becomes the goal of government actions, the protection of “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness” will be reduced to a faint memory.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Darren

    Has leadership gone too far in the wrong direction? Have leaders forgotten the real, true art of leadership? Well maybe, since this author believes that there needs to be a fundamental shift to the style of leadership deployed - a return to life, liberty and the so-called pursuit of happiness. All this requires solid self-leadership, which will in turn lead to organisational leadership. So what are you getting from the author? Effectively two books in one after a brief introduction and outline of Has leadership gone too far in the wrong direction? Have leaders forgotten the real, true art of leadership? Well maybe, since this author believes that there needs to be a fundamental shift to the style of leadership deployed - a return to life, liberty and the so-called pursuit of happiness. All this requires solid self-leadership, which will in turn lead to organisational leadership. So what are you getting from the author? Effectively two books in one after a brief introduction and outline of the author’s vision - one part looking at values in the pursuit of happiness and leading for personal, organisational and societal greatness. The book dispenses a lot of wisdom - conventional wisdom - perhaps just packaged slightly differently to other books but nonetheless it doesn’t feel revolutionary or evolutionary. This need not be viewed as a bad thing. Sometimes a reader doesn’t “click” with one author explaining a theme, yet they do with another. This was the same feeling this reviewer got: it was just difficult to get a real connection. It could be a cultural difference, a matter of style or just that one’s attention was not immediately grabbed. In any case there is a fair bit of information that is logically presented, allowing the reader to either read sequentially or jump in-and-out as required. This reviewer at least, who just couldn’t settle in this book, did notice that he would jump around, picking bits out of different chapters to build on existing knowledge, views and processes. It is hoped that there is a good index (the pre-release copy didn’t feature one despite promising one that could be up to 10 pages long) as that WOULD enable you to really maximise the use of this book. It is fortunate that the book is split into many chapters as the book’s design is very text-heavy and the writing style feels a little stiff, not always flowing and at times onerous. Shorter chapters can reduce reader fatigue as well as enabling you to pick the book up, read a bit, think about it and continue. So in conclusion, it might feel that one is overly negative towards this book. That is not the case. It is just that one could not personally fix a connection to it and books of this kind really do need a connection if you are going to take away the most from it. Yet check it out. The price is not exorbitant and you only need to get one good idea or take away point and you’ve got your money’s worth. Manage your expectations and you probably won’t be disappointed. The Leadership Crisis and the Free Market Cure: Why the Future of Business Depends on the Return to Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness, written by John A. Allison and published by McGraw-Hill Professional. ISBN 9780071831116, 256 pages. YYY⨪

  11. 5 out of 5

    José Antonio Lopez

    In his book "The Leadership Crisis and the Free Market Cure" John A Allison shares his story in BB&T as well as his recent experience leading CATO Institute. What is different about Allison book and other business biographies is the philosophical foundation. Allison shares a coherent and clearly defines philosophical framework that ruled his journey in BB&T, in CATO and in his own life. Comprised of twelve values the system is sound enough to guide people's actions and solve conflicts. Allison s In his book "The Leadership Crisis and the Free Market Cure" John A Allison shares his story in BB&T as well as his recent experience leading CATO Institute. What is different about Allison book and other business biographies is the philosophical foundation. Allison shares a coherent and clearly defines philosophical framework that ruled his journey in BB&T, in CATO and in his own life. Comprised of twelve values the system is sound enough to guide people's actions and solve conflicts. Allison suggests that the current crisis is the result of a weak value system that has allowed the system to divert from the Founders vision. If America wants to recover its dynamism, and leadership people have to demand from their government officials to be principle centered and less pragmatic. Allison presents a broad range of business areas, from finance to people management. From growth by M&A or organic to process management. In each the narrative is similar, an explanation of what they did, what challenges they faced and how sticking to its principles paid off in the long run. His undeniable success leading BB&T from a $4.5Billion in assets bank to $135Billion gives Allison the moral background to suggest that following a similar philosophical framework could result in the return to the founding principles of the USA; Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness. The book doesn't have a narrative that flows, at times it is easy to loose focus because the pace is monotonous, yet the message is strong enough to get back on track.

  12. 5 out of 5

    JP

    Not only is this an important and enjoyable read, it's also exceptional for the way Allison has succeeded within one book at writing about personal ethics, political philosophy, and the American economy. Allison had a successful career leading a major bank to grow consistently while avoiding the risks that caused so many others to need a bailout. Now he's led the leading Libertarian think tank and posited his own integrated view of economic freedom. He is both "a thinker" and "a man of action." Not only is this an important and enjoyable read, it's also exceptional for the way Allison has succeeded within one book at writing about personal ethics, political philosophy, and the American economy. Allison had a successful career leading a major bank to grow consistently while avoiding the risks that caused so many others to need a bailout. Now he's led the leading Libertarian think tank and posited his own integrated view of economic freedom. He is both "a thinker" and "a man of action." This book is a valuable philosophical perspective about how personal integrity connects to successful business and a truly sustainable form of free enterprise.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Nicholas

    This was nice in that I had just met Mr. Allison at a conference so it was kinda cool to then read his book, but he and I fundamentally disagree on too many things to make the read interesting. Try again.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Deborah

    Another must read for those who are interested in making a serious study of leadership.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Quenton King

  16. 5 out of 5

    Yurica

  17. 5 out of 5

    OTHON PAEZ

  18. 4 out of 5

    Beau Sessions

  19. 5 out of 5

    Brian Ogstad

  20. 4 out of 5

    Jacqueline Isaacs

  21. 4 out of 5

    Ilene Skeen

  22. 4 out of 5

    Chris Hellmuth

  23. 4 out of 5

    Micah Heavener

  24. 4 out of 5

    Sarah

  25. 4 out of 5

    Brandon

  26. 4 out of 5

    Alexa

  27. 5 out of 5

    Ken

  28. 4 out of 5

    Luca Bertagnolio

  29. 4 out of 5

    Bradley Sands

  30. 5 out of 5

    Stephen Greenhouse

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