Our Second Book — Heroic Leadership

By Scott T. Allison and George R. Goethals

In Heroic Leadership, we review the relationship between leadership and heroism, showing how our most cherished heroes are also our most transforming leaders.  We also describe in some detail a taxonomy, or conceptual framework, for differentiating among the many varieties of heroism.  Moreover, the book profiles many different individual heroes and provides an analysis of their heroic contributions.

Here’s what several distinguished reviewers have said about Heroic Leadership:

A pioneering and insightful examination of the intersection of heroes and leaders by two gifted psychologists.  Allison and Goethals’ captivating narrative  adds a new dimension to current research on leadership.”
JAMES MacGREGOR BURNS, Pulitzer Prize winning Professor Emeritus at Williams College and Distinguished Leadership Scholar at the James MacGregor Burns Academy of Leadership of the School of Public Policy at the University of Maryland.

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“Allison and Goethals’ stimulating and incisive survey of one-hundred influential leaders could not be more cogent or timely.  When so many of our leaders seem to have feet of clay and principles that bend with the prevailing breezes, they remind us of those leaders who rose to the occasion and stood firm in their moment of decision. As a result, they and their leadership have stood the test of time.  Heroic Leadership offers a refreshingly original and provocative perspective on what it means to be a great leader. Reading this book not only informs us, it also inspires!  My only suggestion would be that we expand their list to 102 — adding their names in appreciation of their heroic scholarly labors!”

RODERICK M. KRAMER, Professor of Organizational Behavior, Stanford University

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“Scott Allison and  George Goethals are pioneering scholars exploring the psychology of heroism and leadership, and this book outlines their contention that while all heroes are leaders, the converse is not true. They make their case by offering snapshots of 100 characters, some fictional (e.g., King Lear), some collective (e.g., Chilean miners, Power Rangers), and some surprising (e.g., Lady Gaga, Meryl Streep) who instantiate their taxonomy of heroes. For researchers and lay people alike, this book is packed with fascinating insights into the psychology of leadership, heroism, and mere celebrity. It is a book to be enjoyed by everyone who wonders why some people attract public attention, and others, who may deserve it (e.g., parents, soldiers, teachers) do not.”

DAVID M. MESSICK, Professor Emeritus at Northwestern University

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Presenting vivid accounts of distinguishable forms of heroism, this is a welcome contribution to understanding heroic aspects of leader-follower relations. It deserves a place as a text, reference source, and feast of revealing narratives. The accounts chosen capture what individuals’ special qualities underlie and activate others’ sense of the “heroic,” based on five factors affecting a leader’s influence. This yields ten types of heroes that are profiled, from trending and transitory to transforming and transcendent. Among those receiving attention in this cavalcade are the tragic, (Oedipus, Tiger Woods, Richard Nixon), and many shown as the “moral,” (e.g., The Dalai Lama, Mother Teresa, Rosa Parks). Insightful analyses of individual cases provide an illuminating blend of scientific scrutiny with compelling storytelling.

EDWIN P. HOLLANDER, Professor Emeritus, CUNY, Baruch College, and University Graduate Center

5 Responses to “Our Second Book — Heroic Leadership”


  • A whole year? Aw, man. Well, I’m glad to hear that it’s on the way, anyhow– I can’t wait to get it. :D

  • Thank you for showing an interest! We’re so pleased that other people share our fascination with heroes.

  • I am not religious (not even Christian) but Jesus and Harry Potter in the same category is eyebrow raising.

    I will def. have to read this one. I am curious how the book reconciles the selection of your heros. Discussing actual historical figures in the same context as Harry Potter begs the question, where did you draw the line? What about anti-heros? Did you consider The Hulk?

    Anyway, my interest is piqued.

  • I thought the first book was very interesting and I learned new things from it so I think I would definitely read the second one to continue to learn more about this topic.

  • Great news – I will pop a note out on my 4 social networks – and then grab me a copy later on…. when I have more than 20 minutes!

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