Three Fallacies of Leadership

To paraphrase the old saying, “LeadershipFalse 1 2 3 is like the weather – everyone talks about it, but no one does anything about it.” People seem to accept leadership, good or bad, as a cosmic fate that simply happens. If we benefit, great. If we suffer from inadequate leadership, it is perceived as bad fortune and unavoidable.

I do not accept those premises.  Unlike the weather, we can do something about leadership

Leadership development is one of the single most important strategic activities undertaken by business entities throughout the world. To ignore the need for excellent leadership practices is an invitation to catastrophe.

Here is what the science says:

  • Studies show that 50% of all businesses that fail, fail due to bad leadership
  • Effective leadership can increase net margins 1% – 3%

I think there are three main fallacies that directly contribute to poor leadership development:

Fallacy one – “Real” leaders have charisma. Continue reading

I Hate Bullies

French-US FlagsI hate bullies.

I think everyone gets bullied, in some way, as a child.  You hope you grow smart enough to avoid it or strong enough resist or resilient enough to fight back, but you never forget it.

Terrorists are bullies on a global, deadly scale.

I do not use the word “hate” lightly…

I hate them.

I hate them for the fear and misery they spread.

I hate them for the way they seek to destroy our freedoms by attempting to force us to build barriers.

I hate them for wishing to force misogyny, ignorance, homophobia, a mono-deistic philosophy, and superstition on the rest of us just so they may recall an earlier way of life that, from a historical point of view, may have never existed.

I refuse to bend to the will and intent of bullies. Continue reading

Leadership is Like a Suit, Responses

Feedback (0)I had some interesting responses from my leadership as a suit analogy (posting on 30 July 2015).

I thought the feedback would be beneficial to share because the comments are representative of those informal leadership discussions we have all shared a thousand times at lunch, in a classroom, or sitting in a bar.

These exchanges are characteristic of the general conversation of leadership and is a part of the daily challenge of leadership… how do we just discuss it?

The conversation becomes a little circular, but since it all sounds reasonable we just nod our heads with no path to progress.

I present the comments as written.  I know this post is long, so you can skip to the rant… er… conclusion at the end for a summary.

(A quick note here… please forgive any typos or grammar errors in the comments themselves.  As anyone who has ever left a comment in a comment section, finger slippage can be an occupational hazard.  I made no changes to the comments to avoid the possibility of editing out intent.  Please, overlook the grammar to read the heart of the message.
Any errors on my part at are totally mine, unless they are really stupid, then let’s go with finger slippage…)

(Second quick note… Damn, the first quick note was almost longer than the intro.)

Continue reading

How to Screw-up Leadership Development

microphone (1) graphic pen

<tap> <tap>


<tap> <tap>

Are you out there?  Anybody?

<tap> <tap>



<tap> <tap>

Is this thing on?

I really want to be that motivator guy.  You know, the guy that runs around and pumps everyone up.  I want to throw those pithy motivational quotes that seem deep and meaningful, but also contradict each other.  I’d sound really wise and clever.  I wouldn’t give actionable advice, but that’s OK since I couldn’t be held accountable.


I can’t be that guy, at least not this time.  Stick with the evidence because the numbers don’t lie.

I hate to do it, but I have to throw statistics at you…

  • In 2012 US companies spent $14 billion on leadership development.
  • In a 2014 benchmark study from Development Dimensions International, corporate leaders and HR professionals were asked to judge the overall quality of their organization’s leadership.
    • 40% of leaders judged the quality as high.
    • 25% of HR judged the quality as high.

If you accept the judgement of the people responsible, then between 60% and 70% of $14 billion is wasted.

In my opinion… you C-suite people are the problem. Continue reading

Leadership is Like a Good Suit

(Or The Fallacy of Leadership Style)

Tux + foam fingerThere are a lot of articles and posts written on the subject of leadership style.  Most of it is based on a faulty premise: you are your leadership style and your leadership style is you.

In other words, people are led to believe that they are defined by their leadership style and they should hone that style into a sharp cutting tool.  However, a sharp tool is not always the best for every job.

“One Style to Rule Them All”

Continue reading

Cooperation over Compliance

Cooperation vs ComplianceWhen you are in a position of authority, what is the best use of your time?  How do you get more leadership bang for the buck?

One of my leadership principles is to create a healthy organizational culture.  I think the best way to convey the message is to cultivate cooperation from people instead of enforcing compliance. Continue reading

Why are We Assessing Leadership Roles and Styles?

Personality (0)What is the point of all of it?

Millions of dollars are spent each year on personality assessment tests.  But, nobody can express a clear reason why.

“Two and a half million Americans a year take the Myers-Briggs. Eighty-nine companies out of the US Fortune 100 make use of it, for recruitment and selection or to help employees understand themselves or their co-workers.”[1]

Almost 90% of Fortune 100 companies perform these tests.  This is amazing to me.

I have taken these assessments.  After receiving my results, my first thought always is: interesting, but so what?

I see a lot of commentary and articles on how to assess leadership styles and roles.

  • Are you a democratic leader, authoritarian, or somewhere in between (here)?
  • What is your personality type (FIRO-B, MBTI)?
  • What is your role as a team member (Belbin)?

Are these useful tools?  Can we use them to predict behaviors or successes? Continue reading

Managing the Power Game

Power game chess (0)We cannot avoid the influences and effect of power in daily life.  It is a dynamic, complicated byproduct of social interaction and constantly changes even in a single relationship between two people.

How often has the phrase “where do you want to eat?” come up and how often was that decision based on your desire to eat a favorite food versus your lack of interest in making a simple decision?

“I dunno, where do you want to eat?…”

Knowing that power games translate into office politics, leaders need to be able manage the powers to the benefit of the group.  A business cannot be “Lord of the Flies”.  It didn’t go well in the book, it won’t go well in the office. Continue reading