Denial: Why Business Leaders Fail to Look Facts in the Face – And What to do About it by Richard S. Tedlow

The Impellus team reviews books that we think will be of interest to managers wishing to develop their leadership and management skills and this month David Shimkus, Impellus Operations Manager, writes the review.

Reason for reading

David writes: I read this book as part of our ongoing research to ensure that Impellus’ training course content is up-to-date. I wanted to move beyond typical strategy models and decision making processes to explore cognitive biases within business and how they can lead to success and failure.

I usually choose to read books based on recommendations from colleagues and clients, however, I bought this book purely based on its title and cover image, as it was exactly the topic I wanted to explore.

My reasons for recommendation

I immediately liked this book as the author had done a lot of first hand research and seemed to be very careful about the accuracy of the content. It also contained page after page of examples from real businesses that would be easy to relate to the breadth of the Impellus’ client base.

I would recommend this book to all directors and senior decision makers in organisations. They may be interested to see how strategies chosen by other organisations have not worked out and importantly highlight the possibility of their own ‘denial’ regarding strategy choices and tactical decisions they may be making right now.

This book does not contain models on theory or practice, but it is designed as a social/business commentary with some lessons learnt like ‘stop ignoring facts’, which made it easy to digest but still interesting.

If you’re pushed for time and cannot read the whole book, try to get as far as page 77. By this point you will be able to see how your own biases may be impacting your decisions.

Supplementary learning

This book would be especially pertinent to the following Impellus’ management training courses:


image that denotes this book has a three star rating

This book will be a real eye-opener for some readers. For me, it was a nice bunch of stories that provided sector-wide specifics on how to engineer out of denial, so does not rate as highly as books that contain more strategic or theoretical leadership information.

Reference: Portfolio Penguin. 2011. ISBN 978-1-59184-391-7