No organisation can survive for very long without someone who is prepared to take on the responsibilities of leadership.
Leaders are special people, which is why not everyone feels capable of taking on the responsibilities, and why not everyone who believes themselves capable is selected for a leadership role.
So, the fact that someone has been selected for leadership sends them a very clear message that they have special characteristics. The tangible rewards of leadership, the larger often private workspace, the bigger salary, entry to special places, like the directors’ dining room, and access to other leaders only serve to confirm that as a leader you are someone special.
Traditional deference for authority figures creates behaviour patterns in subordinates that further confirm the leader’s special nature and make it possible for them to getaway with behaviour that we would not tolerate without comment from our colleagues.
On the other hand, we allow leaders to get away with, being late for meetings; the start of the working day; taking a longer lunch break; or leaving early. These are the perks of seniority and taking on the responsibilities of leadership.
As the media have been repeatedly uncovering in recent years many leaders also appear to be using this deference for authority figures as a licence for behaviour that leaves other people feeling both physically and psychologically violated.
If we are honest everyone who has become a leader has taken advantage of the changed way in which people view leaders. Our humility is overtaken by hubris.
In their book, The Leadership Killer: Reclaiming Humility in an Age of Arrogance, which is this week’s free book summary, Bill Treasurer and John R. Havlik, explore what makes some good leaders turn bad, with the aim of helping new and existing leaders to avoid taking the same path.
Treasurer was Accenture’s first full-time executive coach, teaching its top people how to be better leaders. Havlik is a former US Navy SEAL, who led the redeployment of US Special Forces in 2011 during the Iraq War.
At a time when expectations of work and leadership are changing the Leadership Killer unites the civilian and military experiences of two men through insightful stories and actionable strategies that will help existing and potential leaders become, and more importantly, staying, more effective, confident and perhaps most importantly humble leaders.
The book summary explains:
- What hubris is;
- How to understand and avoid its worst effects; and
- The 10 “essential” tips for being a good leader.
The Leadership Killer is offered as a free summary by Work Place Learning Centre