A Leader's Destiny

Why Psychology, Personality, and Character Make All the Difference


By Elias Aboujaoude

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A psychiatrist puts leadership “on the couch,” with a provocative exploration of its crucial, often ignored, psychological and personal character foundations.
Elias Aboujaoude’s distinctive exploration of leadership explains how our cultlike obsession with leadership gives narcissists and sociopaths an edge and results in leadership failure everywhere we look—and how resisting the imperative to rise at all costs leaves many with an inferiority complex.
His takedown of the leadership industrial complex pokes a very sharp elbow into an industry seemingly united in a modern form of alchemy to create leadership gold—a waste of time and money, Aboujaoude vividly illustrates, since leaders emerge from a unique combination of personal, psychological, and situational factors that cannot be easily controlled or manipulated, no matter how gifted the executive coach.
This bracing take on a classic subject provides new insight into the way psychology aligns with the requirements of effective and happy leadership. The result is to empower us to understand ourselves and step up if we have what it takes to lead—or find equally rewarding, often superior, ways to achieve fulfillment if we don’t.

  • “[Aboujaoude] delivers a book that anyone considering enrollment in a course with “leadership” in the title should investigate. A distinctive, thought-provoking view on leadership in the 21st century.”
    Kirkus Reviews
  • “[A] provocative takedown…Aboujaoude makes a thought-provoking case that pat, multistep prescriptions for good leadership generalize too broadly and fail to account for the importance of chance…will leave readers with much to contemplate.”
    Publishers Weekly
  • “Elias Aboujaoude’s thoughtful and stimulating A Leader’s Destiny is at once a great read and an incisive analysis of what we mean by ‘leadership’. By unpacking the essential personality and psychological qualities needed for ascending to leadership positions and the individual and societal price that one--or all of us--may need to pay for getting there, Aboujaoude uses his great experience in psychology and psychiatry for critical insight into how our own makeups generate behaviors with positive and potentially negative consequences.”
    Alan F. Schatzberg, MD, Past President, American Psychiatric Association.
  •  “Stanford expert Elias Aboujaoude is the perfect person to dissect how the leadership and life coaching industry has given us a new class of narcissistic leaders who model themselves on the master of impulse, Elon Musk. A potent antidote to the notion that anyone can be taught to be a leader, A Leader’s Destiny gives us pioneering insight into the personal, psychological, and situational factors that shape effective leaders.” 
    Jonathan Taplin, director emeritus, Annenberg Innovation Lab, University of Southern California
  • "Very engaging right from the beginning, A Leader’s Destiny drew me in and made me read on and on. Everyone who aspires to a leadership role or, very importantly, who is responsible for choosing and developing leaders must read this book. I wish I had read it while I was developing my leadership team."
    Dr. John Featherstone, dean emeritus, School of Dentistry, University of California, San Francisco
  • "Elias Aboujaoude's lively, accessible, and learned critique of the concept and practice of leadership raises interesting and provocative questions that resonate. Can leadership be taught?  What is the role and virtue of executive coaching? How can the tools of the psychologist assist in improving current practice? What is the priority given to emotional intelligence in the training of potential leaders? Aboujaoude's case studies illuminate all these issues, and many others beyond."
    Colin B. Bailey Director, The Morgan Library & Museum, New York

On Sale
May 21, 2024
Page Count
320 pages

Elias Aboujaoude author photo

Elias Aboujaoude

About the Author

Dr. Elias Aboujaoude is a psychiatry professor, researcher, and author at Stanford University, where he heads the Anxiety Disorders Section and OCD Clinic. He has also held positions at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center, the University of California in Berkeley, the University of California in San Francisco, and the University of York in the United Kingdom. Besides OCD, Dr. Aboujaoude's research has focused on the interface between technology and psychology, both in its negative manifestations (e.g., video game addiction, online narcissism, cyberbullying, effects of online privacy violations) and positive applications (e.g., telemedicine, virtual reality therapy, AI-mediated digital therapeutics). His entrepreneurial projects include cofounding the first Silicon Valley video-enabled therapy platform. 
In addition to peer-reviewed scientific publications and academic books, Dr. Aboujaoude has authored general-audience books, including Virtually You: The Dangerous Powers of the e-Personality (a New York Times Editors’ Choice) and articles for the Wall Street JournalUSA Today, the Harvard Business Review, the Financial Times, the Chronicle of Higher Education, and Fortune. His work has received broad coverage, including by the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, the Washington Post, National GeographicTIMENewsweekCongressional Quarterly, NPR, CNN, ABC, NBC, and BBC. He has lectured in over 20 countries, including at scientific, specialty, or general-audience events (e.g., World Psychiatric Association, US Department of Defense, University of Miami convocation, Stanford Alumni Association).    

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