Scott A. Snook, Ph.D. | How to develop authentic… | Gagen MacDonald

Insights & Events / Let Go & Lead / LG&L Podcast

Scott A. Snook, Ph.D. | How to develop authentic leaders

Aug 16, 2023

Leadership expert, Harvard Business School Senior Lecturer and bestselling author of Friendly Fire Scott A. Snook discusses what he’s learned over his time in the military and academia about what it takes to lead. Snook, a decorated veteran and victim of friendly fire himself, studies these incidents of tragedy as a way to make sense of — and ultimately prevent — organizational dysfunction. Among other things, they discuss why every leadership program should cover “followership” and the art of managing up; how leaders fundamentally cannot control outcomes, and can only shift the odds; the importance of finding the right balance between high challenge and high support; and why ultimately, what leaders need most is self-awareness and self-acceptance — or, in other words, to be both socially intelligent and secure.

About Scott A. Snook, Ph.D.

Scott A. Snook graduated with honors from West Point, earning the Royal Society of Arts Award for the most outstanding overall cadet in his class. Following graduation, he was commissioned in the US Army Corps of Engineers, where he served in various command and staff positions for over 22 years, earning the rank of Colonel before retiring in 2002. He has led soldiers in combat. Among his military decorations are the Legion of Merit, Bronze Star, Purple Heart and Master Parachutist badge. He has an MBA from the Harvard Business School, where he graduated with High Distinction as a Baker Scholar. Dr. Snook earned his Ph.D. from Harvard University in Organizational Behavior, winning the Sage-Louis Pondy Best Dissertation Award from the Academy of Management for his study of the Friendly Fire Shootdown in Northern Iraq. Until July of 2002, Colonel Snook served as an Academy Professor in the Behavioral Sciences and Leadership Department at the United States Military Academy. He also directed West Point's Center for Leadership and Organizations Research as well as its joint Master's Program in Leader Development.

Scott's passion is to help others live more "meaning-full" lives. More specifically, he is interested in unpacking and understanding transformational leader (human) development experiences --how to make the most out of life's curriculum, as well as how to create high-leverage/high-impact interventions to accelerate the growth of leaders.

Professor Snook's book Friendly Fire was selected by the Academy of Management to receive the 2002 Terry Award as the most influential book on managerial thinking published during the past two years. He has also co-authored a book that explores the role of "common sense" in leadership titled, Practical Intelligence in Everyday Life (2000) and co-edited The Handbook for Teaching Leadership: Knowing, Doing, and Being (2011). Most recently, he co-authored The Discover Your True North Fieldbook (2015), which is the primary text for “Authentic Leader Development,” the popular MBA elective he has taught for over 10 years. Professor Snook has shared his leadership insights in formal executive education programs at Harvard and with numerous corporate audiences around the world.

About Let Go & Lead

Let Go & Lead is a leadership community created by Maril MacDonald, founder and CEO of Gagen MacDonald. Maril brings together provocateurs, pioneers, thought leaders and those leading the conversation around culture, transformation and change.

Over the course of the past 12 years, Let Go & Lead has existed in many forms, from video interviews to resource guides to its current iteration as a podcast. At its core, it remains a place where people can access a diversity of perspectives on interdisciplinary approaches to leadership. Maril is also working on a book incorporating these insights gathered over the past several years from global leaders and change makers.

Maril has interviewed over 120 leaders — from business to academia and nonprofits to the arts — through the years. In each conversation, from personal anecdotes to ground-breaking scientific analysis, she has probed the lessons learned in leadership. From these conversations, the Let Go & Lead framework has emerged. It is both a personal and organizational resource that aims to serve the individual leader or leadership at scale.

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