Here’s a bit of advice from the research director of Harvard’s Center for Public Leadership on how to avoid going bad as a leader:
Pull your own plug. Decide at the outset how long you think somebody else could hold down your new job before becoming grandiose or complacent. Then, kick yourself out when you reach that point.
Share power. Al Dunlap brought down Sunbeam because he refused to work with anybody. The antidote: collaboration and delegation. Give everyone who’s under your supervision enough rope to hang themselves. Usually, they won’t.
Don’t believe your hype. One executive we know actually programmed the company phones to read “Satan” whenever he called. Putting aside the merits of modeling yourself on the devil, this guy had unfortunately bought his own advertising.
Get real. Stay real. Every bad leader loses touch with reality. One of the only ways to avoid blindness about yourself is to keep at very close quarters those thorns in your side who tell you the truth.
Offset your weaknesses. Fill the gaps in your expertise or personality by hiring people who are good at those things.
Stay balanced. Many of the most successful leaders are workaholics who neglect family and friends. But balanced leaders develop healthier organizations.
— Adapted from Bad Leadership: What It Is, How It Happens, Why It Matters, Barbara Kellerman, Harvard Business School Press.
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