Can Promotions Be Seen as an Endorsement of a Leader’s Dark Side?

According to Harvard Business Review, “Worryingly, leaders tend to do a poor job of evaluating their own dark sides, particularly as they gain power and move up the ranks. Some perceive their career advancement as an endorsement or encouragement of their bad habits. Eventually, however, those weaknesses may derail them, and perhaps their teams and organisations, too.”  Click on this link to learn more:

I think this is why companies can’t just tick the boxes and pay lip service to things like effective followership; 360° feedback; trust-based cultures; freedom from command and control; leadership maturity assessments; vertical development; delayed bonus schemes (to ensure longer-term consequences aren’t damaging to the company and society); and real accountability.

Given recent events in South Africa, I wonder how Bell Pottinger, KPMG and other organisations with questionable ethics evaluate and monitor the ‘dark side’ of their most senior leaders?  It’s one thing to assess the Hogan derailers, but then what?  How do companies make sure their leaders are in it for the longer-term greater good and not for the shorter-term great greed?  Isn’t it this kind of behaviour that led to the financial crisis in 2008?  And the BP Gulf of Mexico crisis?

In my experience, too many companies prefer to ignore the shadow side of leadership. They’re obsessed with Good To Great and ignore How The Mighty Fall (Jim Collins’ best book… and that’s my five cents worth).

Companies – by that I mean their leaders – should be required to adopt a more responsible outlook; one that reflects on their contribution to society at large as well as to internal goals. For instance, bonuses will only be paid out for longer-term, sustainable performance rather than for short-lived profits.

What do you think?

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