Monday, January 20, 2014

Put a stop to destructive behavior

An article in The Economist discusses how to spot the early signs of leadership going off the rails. I found this a great reminder to watch your own behavior. Through regular use of i-time, you can reflect on your work behavior and self-identify if you begin to exhibit these trends.

The article lists a few common self-destructive traits:

Grandiosity
From the article: "He attributes the company’s success wholly to himself, indulges in endless self-promotion or demands ever more extravagant rewards. Jean-Marie Messier, who transformed Vivendi from a staid water utility into a media conglomerate that ran up huge losses, borrowed his nickname—“J6M”, which stands for “Jean-Marie Messier Moi-Même-Maître-du-Monde”—for the title of his autobiography. One study shows that chief executives who appear on the covers of business magazines are more likely to make foolish acquisitions."
Over-control
"The boss surrounds himself with yes-men and crushes dissent. He tries to control every detail of corporate life rather than building a strong executive team."
Distorted decision-making
"The chief conflates personal and corporate assets, is obsessed with buying other companies, or focuses on bizarre details. Mr Messier spent $17.5m of Vivendi’s money on a New York apartment for his personal use. Fred Goodwin, boss of RBS, micromanaged the building of a £350m ($630m) head office, called “Fredtown” by his underlings, and found time to redesign the bank’s Christmas cards."
But how can organizations put a stop to this bad behavior in leadership? According to the article, the best answer lies with the executive him/herself. Look inward, and be honest with yourself. Do you focus too much on the short-term wins? Do you put the spotlight on yourself, rather than on those around you? Also, cultivate an understanding with those around you, so they can honestly let you know when things get out of hand. The article mentions Kevin Sharer, the former boss of Amgen, who used to get his direct reports to list his strengths and weaknesses annually for the board. He also kept a painting of General Custer in his office as a warning against hubris.

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