I often ask job interview candidates, "What one business book would you suggest that I read?" A recent candidate suggested The Oz Principle by Roger Connors. I was intrigued by the idea of using the story of The Wizard of Oz as an allegory for leadership in business and industry.
I liked this book at first. I agreed with the author that all to many people these days seem to blame others for their problems and look to some "wizard" to wave a magic wand and fix their problems for them.
But, about 1/2 of the way through the book, the authors' take on this thesis deviated from my growing interpretation of it and I ended up not liking it. The author's increasing emphasis on personal accountability turns toward a very self-centric approach, away from teamwork and organizational accountability. It turns very selfish and away from the good of the organization.
Near the end, the author identifies the character in The Wizard of Oz whom he thinks is a role model for leaders today: Glinda the Good Witch of the North. Yes, Glinda. Glinda who appears briefly at the beginning of the story and urges Dorothy to seek out the Wizard to solve her problems. Glinda who reappears at the end of the story to urge Dorothy to use magic to solve her last problems. That Glinda. The Glenda who has nothing to do with defeating the Wicked Witch and nothing to do with saving the city, nothing to do with helping the Scarecrow, the Tin Man, or the Lion. That Glinda.
Putting Glinda forward as the role model is really the antithesis of the author's thesis. It's ridiculous.
Who is the role model character in The Wizard of Oz? Why it's the Wizard himself, of course. The Wizard who, through what we would, today, call "coaching", or "mentoring", helps the Scarecrow, the Tin Man, the Lion, and Dorothy to stop blaming others for their problems and recognize and take ownership of the abilities they already have. It's the Wizard who helps them pull together and work as a team to defeat the Wicked Witch, something that most thought impossible.
The true role model is not Absentee Glinda, but Oz himself.
Recently, a friend suggested I read Leaders Eat Last (SBN-10: 1480542555) wherein Simon Sinek, uses the US Marine Corp as an allegory for leadership in business and industry. I was skeptical, but I got it anyway. Let me tell you this: you can learn a lot more about real-world leadership from real-life marines than from a fictional good witch.
My advice: skip Oz and spend your money and, more importantly, your time, eating with the Marines.
(Oh, and by the way, that interview candidate? We didn't hire him. I'm glad for that.)