Based on her analysis of hundreds of case studies, Kellerman develops her own typology, listing p38 seven distinct categories of bad leadership: incompetent; rigid; intemperate; callous; corrupt; insular; evil, which she illustrates with eye-opening accounts of well-known bad leaders. She then prescribes some best leadership practices, designed to constrain such baboon-ish behaviour. When leadership itself is hard to define — Bass , cited in Gill, , p9 , found over definitions — what hope is there for an explanation of Bad Leadership? Unethical leaders do not. She defends the pragmatic usefulness of these categories, but the lack of any theoretical underpinning remains a key weakness.
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I wrote it because I could not understand why the leadership industry was so obsessed with developing good leaders, when stopping or at least slowing bad leaders seemed every bit as daunting a problem.
Why are we afraid to acknowledge, much less admit to, the dark side. These are questions I posed then — these are questions I pose now.
Bad leadership and bad followership — they are indivisible — are endemic to the human condition. Moreover there is not the slightest sign — not withstanding the still burgeoning leadership industry — this is about the change. Withal, there are some moments in time when bad leadership seems particularly prevalent, when it seems to smack us in the face, over and over again.
These last several days have been such a moment. Army had a relationship with a woman other than his wife, or even that he might have done so while serving as director of the Central Intelligence Agency. Rather it is that he, and his successor, Marine General John Allen, who has been at least slightly tarnished by the same brush, have in a single stroke blemished the reputation of the American military.
Why does this matter so much? It is because up to now the military has been one of the few, arguably the only, institution in America whose reputation remained into the 21st century relatively clean and pure. It might not seem fair to blight an entire organization because a couple of leaders were pushed from their perch. But these were no ordinary leaders — they were among the highest ranking in the American military.
In fact, even the conduct of our two most recent wars, Iraq and Afghanistan, is now being scrutinized in new and different ways. They especially failed to understand the conflicts they were fighting — and then failed to adjust their strategies to the situations they faced so that they might fight more effectively.
He was so good at it that he conned the news media into thinking he was the most remarkable general officer in the last 40 years, and, by playing hard to get, he conned the political establishment into thinking that he could morph into Ike Part Deux …. It is about how bad leadership is ubiquitous — and about how our senses are serially saturated with stories of how those on high fall down on the job. More to the point, remarkably, atypically, a few individuals were actually held personally responsible for what went wrong.
Key here is the distinction between an abstraction, holding an institution accountable, and a reality, holding an individual accountable. For the first time, protesters called for an end to his rule. As a result, said investigation has been extended to China, India, and Brazil. Accusations against the company started to appear in German and Swedish media about a year ago. Now that they have been confirmed, victims will be redoubling their efforts to be compensated. Sound familiar? So does this.
So far Mark Thompson, another former director general, whose hands are other than completely clean in this matter, remains in line imminently to take over as CEO of the New York Times Company. The 85 year-old company, which gave us national treasures including Twinkies and Ding Dongs and Wonder Bread, had declared bankruptcy in January, and this week it folded.
Because they could not be resolved the company went out of business — which means the large majority of its 18, employees will be laid off. On this particular subject, no more need be said, at least not here, not now.
One last thing — a final question. Can you tell me why this dreadful, sometimes even lethal, phenomenon, bad leadership, remains outside the purview of the leadership industry, outside the purview of leadership scholarship?
Kellerman describes, decries ‘bad leadership’