Questions for study
- How is it that leaders who are initially selected for a position based on their competencies, may eventually fail dramatically? What are the causes of this downfall?
- How could "at risk" leaders be identified earlier? What mechanism would enable this? What kinds of interventions might be useful?
- What are the effects of a flawed leader on an organization (consider organizational culture as well as impact on performance)? Think of some examples of such events.
The specific outcomes for this assignment include:
- Identify the types of leadership problem behaviors and how they occur
- Identify the options for dealing with flawed leadership and the contingencies that influence selection
- Explore the systemic implications and consequences flawed leadership and of the options for delaing with it
The failure of many companies to survive or thrive can be traced to the culture, relationships and decisions created by or enabled by flawed leadership. Such problematic leaders are not always apparent. Some may be quite appropriate for a particular situation or stage in organizational development, but become antiquated with further change. Some may have strengths that become exaggerated over time, or they become abusive of their success and power. Still others may have personality disorders or meotional concerns that interfere with their meeting the demands of their position. One consultant has reported that about 15% of the problems he has been hired to solve as a corporate consultant are relate to narcissistic managers. Hertzberg (1968), and more recently Hogan, Raskin, and Fazzini (1990) report that the base rate for flawed leadership is between 60-75% in organizations, based on employees reporting that the worst aspect of their job is their immediate supervisor! In other studies, the failure rate of corporate executives in the US from the 1980's-90's was about 50% (DeVries, 1992). Incompetent management has been estimated at 60% in one large hospital (Shipper & Wilson, 1991) and 50% in a large aerospace organization (Millikin-Davies, 1992).
The popular literature has picked up on this theme, and recent years has seen the proliferation of books with such themes (Lesly, 1992). It was found that 25% of managers abuse employees anough that workers call in sick, slow down productivity, or change jobs. This costs industry and the economy up to $5 billion annually. Liability tends to follow such problems and 29 states have upheld personal injury claims related to abuse of power.
When some form of dysfunctional leadership occurs, there are a range of options available depending on level of the offender, liability risks, substantiation of the offenses, protection of reporters, and enlightenment of the decision makers who can effect a change in this problem.
There are several sources of information
- Three sources of flawed leadership
- Walking wounded
- Icarus Paradox
- Defensive Routines: The double bind (Additional links on neurotic organizations and organization defensive routines)
- Leadership substitutes, neutralizers, and enhancements
- Why leaders fail--
- Causes of failure--
- Avoiding the new executive failure trap--
- Six common beliefs of executives who fail--
- Failure: dreaded word in executive lexicon--
- CEO turnover--
DeVries, D. L. (1992). Executive selection: Advances but no progress. Issues & Observations, 12, 1-5.
Herzberg, F. (1968). One more time: How do you motivate employees? Harvard Business Review, 46, 53-62.
Hogan, R., Raskin, R., & Fazzini, D. (1990). The dark side of charisma. In K. E. Clark & M. B. Clark (Eds.), Measures of leadership (pp. 343-354). West Orange, NJ: Leadership Library of America.
Lesly, E. (September 21, 1992). Goodbye Mr. Dithers (Abusive bosses). Business Week, 52.
Millikin-Davies, M. (1992). An exploration of flawed first-line supervision. Unpublished doctoral dissertation. University of Tulsa.
Shipper, F., & Wilson, C. L. (1991). The impact of managerial behaviors on group performance, stress, and commitment. Paper, Research conference on leadership, Center for Creative Leadership, Colorado Springs, CO.