Posted by: csdivakar | August 7, 2013

Leadership and Self-Deception – Germ Theory

Leadership and Self-Deception is an excellent book authored by Arbinger Institute. ( Group of person written together).

In Chapter 4, ‘The Problem beneath Other Problems’ . I would like to describe the theory short and it is a key for all our problems.

Ignaz Semmelweis is an European doctor , an obstetrician worked at Vienna’s General Hospital in 1800s. He was upset when he found that the mortality rate was one in ten in his ward and the mortality rate was one in fifty in mid-wives ward.  He did lot of analysis with patients in the both the wards and found everything is normal.  He standardised everything from birthing positions to ventilation and diet. He even standardised the way the laundry was done. He incredibly discouraged.

Semmelweis gone for a vacation for 4 months and found that the mortality rate decreased and matched with one in fifty in his ward.  Gradually, his inquiry led him to think about the possible significance of research done by the doctors on Cadavers.

Semmelweis discovered that the only significant difference was that he, spent far more time doing research on the cadavers.  He developed a theory, ‘particles’ from cadaers and other diseased patients were being transmitted to health patients on the hands of the physicians. He immediately instituted a policy requiring physicians to wash their hands thoroughly in a chlorine and lime solution before examining any patient. This is called Germ Theory and it resulted in to Mortality rate to 1 in 100.

In same way, there is a similar germ we carry to one extent to another , a germ that kills leadership, a germ that causes a multitude of ‘people problems’, a germ that can be isolated and neutralised.

Let us self-introspect and discover our germs before we start identifying the reasons for challenges.


  1. Good one. Just to recognize our germs will solve half the problem. We get caught up in things and when we finally realize something is wrong, we are in a reaction mode instead of proactively addressing the germ. I will check out the book.

    • Thank you kausik. Glad u liked it.

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