CHAPTER 2Conscious Is the New Smart

The Devil Wears Prada is a great example where fiction depicts reality better than fact – especially when one of the best actresses of a generation shows you how to do it. Meryl Streep outdoes herself portraying Miranda Priestly, the perfectionist head of a glamorous fashion magazine in New York City. Revered in the glitzy world of international fashion, Miranda is the movie's villain. Her modus operandi is to create fear and loathing wherever she goes. Her employees describe her as a dream-crushing boss at her happiest when everyone around her is panicked, nauseous, or suicidal. Narcissistic, closed-minded, and uncaring, the Priestly Streep portrays a monument to bad leadership, unaware and asleep at the helm.1

The “Devil” in the film is the boss we all dread and hope to never encounter. Yet, people are drawn to the character because many aspire to reach her level of success. Streep makes Miranda believable by demonstrating real behaviors we see in daily life. Her toxic leadership is the product of a culture that encourages jockeying to be the smartest, most creative person in the room. There is no reason why Miranda had to become such a toxic leader.

Everyone has a choice on how they show up in the world. The good news is there are leaders who understand the power of being aware. Take the example of Mary Barra, chairman and CEO of General Motors Company, the first female CEO of a major global automaker. Barra rose through the ranks of GM, ...

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