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Bad Leadership. There is a dark side of the human condition. It paints leadership in shades of gray—and in black. - Barbara Kellerman. Webs of Significance. The leader is significant and may or may not hold a formal position of authority.

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Bad leadership

Bad Leadership

There is a dark side of the human condition. It paints leadership in shades of gray—and in black.

- Barbara Kellerman


Webs of significance
Webs of Significance

  • The leader is significant and may or may not hold a formal position of authority.

  • A leader chooses a particular course of action and then gets others to go along.

  • Followers are vital to the web of leadership; there is no leadership without followers.


The webs of leadership
The Webs of Leadership

  • The leader

  • The followers

  • The context


Why have we ignored bad leadership
Why Have We Ignored Bad Leadership?

  • Reason 1: The use of language

    JM Burns – “power wielder”

    “It can’t be leadership if it isn’t wrapped in integrity.”

  • Reason 2: Business trumps everything

  • Reason 3: The American National Character


What s the cost of ignoring bad leadership
What’s the cost of ignoringbad leadership?

  • If we pretend that bad leadership is unrelated to good leadership, if we pretend to know the one without knowing the other, we will in the end distort the enterprise.

  • Fundamental proposition: To deny bad leadership in the conversation and curriculum is tantamount to a medical school teaching health while ignoring the disease.


Leader traits character
Leader Traits & Character

  • Leadership traits do matter. Average people who exercise leadership still exceed the average members of their groups in traits such as intelligence, sociability, persistence, alertness, verbal facility, level of energy, and adaptability.

  • Character matters. To know a person’s character is to know their moral compass.


Why do followers behave badly
Why Do Followers Behave Badly?

  • Bad leaders often satisfy our most basic human needs like safety, simplicity, and certainty.

  • It may simply be in their best (selfish) interests to go with the flow.

  • Not following may entail risk and certainly requires courage.


Nazi germany had three groups of followers
Nazi Germany Had Three Groups of Followers

  • Bystanders-largest group who simply went along with Hitler. Motivation ranged from self-interest and being part of a national group.

  • Evildoers-members of units such as the SS. Some were sadists and others believed they were simply killing vermin. Still others turned brutal being brutalized by violence or the threat of violence.


Nazi germany had three groups of followers1
Nazi Germany Had Three Groups of Followers

  • Acolytes-The true believers. Deeply committed to Hitler personally and to his political program. Constituted the inner circle (Goring, Goebbels).


The good news about bad leadership
The Good News About Bad Leadership

The good news is that the balance of power between leaders and followers has shifted in recent years. More followers are divesting leaders of some power, authority, and influence. This is all to the good, because once they are entrenched, bad leaders seldom change or quit of their own volition. That means it’s up to us to insist either on change or an early exit.


Types of bad leadership ineffective and unethical leadership
Types of Bad LeadershipIneffective and Unethical Leadership

  • Ineffective Leadership -3 kinds

  • incompetent leadership – the leader and at least some followers lack the will or skill (or both) to sustain effective action. With regard to at least one important leadership challenge, they do not create positive change.

  • rigid leadership – the leader and at least some followers are stiff and unyielding. Although they may be competent, they are unable or unwilling to adapt to new ideas, new information, or changing times.

  • intemperate leadership – the leader lacks self-control and is aided and abetted by followers who are unwilling or unable to intervene.


Unethical leadership
Unethical Leadership

  • Unethical Leadership – 4 kinds

  • callous leadership – the leader and at least some followers are uncaring or unkind. Ignored or discounted are the needs, wants, and wishes of most members of the group or organization, especially subordinates.

  • corrupt leadership – the leader and at least some followers lie, cheat, or steal. To a degree that exceeds the norm, they put self-interest ahead of the public interest.


Unethical leadership1
Unethical Leadership

  • insular leadership – the leader and at least some followers minimize or disregard the health and welfare of “the other” i.e., those outside the group or organization for which they are directly responsible.

  • evil leadership – the leader and at least some followers commit atrocities. They use pain as an instrument of power. The harm done to men, women, and children is severe rather than slight. The harm can be physical, psychological, or both.


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