Why Leadership Can't Be All About You  

5 August 2019:

Who are your bosses from Hell? Maybe the supervisors so full of themselves you just want to scream—leaders who live large in their own egos, who demand credit for everything, proud and arrogant because, as long as they’re winning, leadership is all about them. Why do they have to be that way?

That question started my recent conversation with Stanley McChrystal, the distinguished former military general and now business consultant. We were discussing his new book, Leaders: Myth and Reality, and the impersonal forces and silent biases that perpetuate the concept of heroic leadership—and also breed the arrogance of so many bosses from Hell.


McChrystal suggested that historical concepts of individual causality, coupled with media exultation of celebrity leaders has obscured the more complex nature of leadership. And that’s undermined what organizations in the network age must do to perform.

The general ticked off personal and societal cues that keep elevating full-of-themselves leaders. With each new success, they feel more the super hero. When the stock price rises, the commercial press touts their brilliance. Business schools celebrate their industry disruption. Boards grant compensation a hundred-fold above those who actually deliver the star-studded results. “The accolades, HR systems, and pay scales make them think they’re like Superman. It kills the culture of learning and collaboration vital today.”


OK, now look in the mirror. You manage people too. What do they think of you? Are you guilty of too much amour-propre? Do you define your own leadership by what you think you alone bring to the job?

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Source: Forbes

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