Do boring leaders lead to better business outcomes?

November 28, 2022

According to Harvard business administration professor Raffaella Sadun, the demise of FTX and Theranos and the recent turmoil at Twitter demonstrate the importance of “boring management problems” and the importance of specific background skills and abilities to influence employees.

in an article Harvard Business ReviewProfessor Sadun writes that while management practices vary by industry, her research has found that “good management” is “more profitable” and encompasses three areas – goal setting, motivation and monitoring.

Mrs. Sadun added that while vision and intelligence are “fun to write about” and often get major media coverage for CEOs, it downplays context-specific skills and the ability to influence organizations “to make poor hiring choices and poor investments.”

German sociologist Max Weber in the early 1900s is credited with coining the term for three main leadership styles: charismatic, bureaucratic (legal reason) and traditional. According to the Yale professor, Weber believed that ccharismatic leader”Promising to change future societies also changes people’s attitudes and values; in this way, charismatic authority is revolutionary in a way that traditional authority and legal rational authority are not. However, charisma destabilizes and deteriorates if the leader is unable to produce the change he promises, or when he is confronted with the contradictory logic and demands of other types of authority. “

In his 2021 book, “The Emergence of Charismatic Business Leadership,” Harvard Business School professor emeritus Richard Tedlow argues that charisma, when combined with authentic character, can inspire employees to rethink possible boundaries. In his book, he writes, “Charisma turns a market transaction—you work, I pay you—into a social transaction—follow me and you become a more fulfilled human being.”

Speaking of NPRIf influential, charismatic leaders tend to inspire action, says Jochen Mengers, a leadership scholar at the Judge Business School at the University of Zurich and the University of Cambridge. He says,Charisma is perfect for sparking a movement that inspires us all to get out and do something. But it’s not enough to establish yourself as a dreamer and someone who makes others feel good. Then delivering your results is also important. “

Discussion question: Do you think the potential benefits of having a charismatic retail CEO outweigh the risks? What skills are typically lacking in such a visionary leader?

think tank

“CEOs who put more emphasis on being fun and engaging are less likely to focus on the details that lead to success.”


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