After so many corporate-scandals and the public’s shrinking confidence in their leaders, should we be rethinking the way leadership is taught?
The way leadership has been taught doesn’t seem to be paying off, asserts author Barbara Kellerman. There’s little evidence to indicate that leadership-development programs are working.
The evidence of a leadership crisis is everywhere. A 2011 CNN/ORC International poll reveals that only 15% of Americans trust the federal government to do what is right most of the time. Harvard’s Center for Public Leadership found 77% of Americans agree that the country has a leadership crisis.
Then there are the corporate leadership failures. For example, over the past two years Goldman Sachs’ reputation has been put through the ringer. Yet it was named by Bloomberg Businessweek as one of the “Best Companies for Leadership.”
“What we had, in other words, was a situation in which Goldman’s leadership development program was among the most highly rated—even after its greed and hubris had become obvious, and even after its public floggings,” Kellerman writes.
“What does this say about our capacity to develop leaders?” she asks.
A starting point, she suggests, is teaching people how to follow with intelligence and integrity, which might mean refusing to follow an ineffective or unethical leadership. Then we need to reinvent how we teach leadership skills.
Lesson: Don’t be afraid to apply objective metrics to your own pursuit of leadership excellence.
— Adapted from The End of Leadership, Barbara Kellerman.