Mean Men: The Perversion of America's Self-Made Man
Steve Jobs, Dov Charney, Lance Armstrong, Donald Trump. Each one has reached the pinnacle of American success. Is it because they were ambitious visionaries and talented entrepreneurs? Most Americans would say yes to both. But what else do they have in common?
They're known for being mean.
Though heralded as great leaders, each of these men and many more have also been exposed as toxic, raging, and manipulative. Yet, because America loves a winner, we look past even the most outrageous behavior from our heroes if it generates a gold medal, a windfall IPO, or a political victory. But at what price does our complicity come? And what role does gender play--is meanness at this level reserved for men?
Drawing on author Mark Lipton's extensive experience as adviser to major corporations, start-ups, government agencies, and not-for-profits, Mean Men synthesizes decades of psychological research to expose what really drives this subset of America's leaders. As surprising as it is alarming, the book reveals dark truths about a psychological disorder that rules many of our boardrooms, and challenges the status quo with a more effective humanistic approach to leadership.
Amid a chorus of women’s voices sounding the #MeToo movement, Lipton, a New School management professor, issues a detailed, methodical, and scathing critique of male behavior at its worst. He asks what it is in American culture that allows “mean men” to function and be celebrated in many sectors of society, including in the country’s highest political office. Lipton focuses on entrepreneurs, the “go-getting, risk-taking and rebellious” class now lionized in America, as a rich source of examples. From “Opportunists” to “Dogmatists,” Lipton discusses six distinct types of problematic archetypes that all share the common traits of being abusive to coworkers, unprincipled, unempathetic, deceitful, lacking in remorse, and prone to shunning responsibility. Whether the example is Mark Pincus of Zynga, Steve Jobs of Apple, producer Harvey Weinstein, or Dov Charney of American Apparel, Lipton has no qualms about naming names and telling the stories of men long allowed to flourish despite their unpleasant behavior. As for mean women, Lipton argues that they certainly exist, but that social norms make them less likely to thrive. What to do about their male counterparts, then? Empathy, Lipton says at the conclusion, can be used to understand and thus stand up to them. Readers with “mean men” for bosses will feel newly empowered by Lipton’s well-timed manifesto. (BookLife)
Aaron James, professor of philosophy at the University of California, Irvine
"What's worse than an asshole, or the worst sort of asshole? The guy who is abusively mean. Mark Lipton's engaging book gets into the head of mean men, why our entrepreneurial culture is spawning them, and how we might get back to true leadership and civil cooperation."
"Mean Men: The Perversion of America's Self-made Man by Mark Lipton ... is a long overdue book. How long overdue? I'd say at least a quarter century."
Robert Sutton, Stanford professor & author of The No Asshole Rule
"Mark Lipton's unsettling masterpiece makes a compelling case for why, all too often, mean men get ahead in business and politics. He shows why their unhealthy nastiness and selfishness is too often confused with healthy competence and drive. He documents the damage they do and, thank goodness, shows that leaders don't need to be mean to get ahead--how some of our best (such as Mark Zuckerberg) have matured into caring and giving people and how such wisdom has helped them build great and civilized organizations."