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Bad Leadership

Bad Leadership
Barbara Kellerman
Boston: Harvard Business School Press, 2004
HD57.7 .K47 2004

For most of us, leadership has become synonomous with competence, courage, and good character. How, then, do we explain the atrocities committed by Saddam Hussein? The corrupt behavior of former Enron CFO Andrew Fastow? The scandals in the Catholic Church? In spite of the countless glaring examples of bad leadership, why do we cling to an idealized notion of leadership that is more imagined than real?

Bad Leadership argues that it's time to embrace a more honest, holistic view of leadership that acknowledges the dark side of human nature and its impact on leaders and followers alike. In a provocative departure from conventional thinking, Barbara Kellerman contends that bad leadership is not an aberration, but a ubiquitous and insidious part of everyday life that must be carefully examined and better understood.

Kellerman identifies two fundamental categories of bad leadership - ineffective and unethical - and highlights the seven types of bad leadership that are most prevalent: incompetent, rigid, intemperate, callous, corrupt, insular, and evil. Through absorbing examples of high-profile contemporary figures from business and politics, Kellerman helps us to understand how and why particular leaders went bad, how their followers aided and abetted the process, and what lessons these stories hold for how bad leadership can be stopped or slowed. Why did the "Queen" of the Internet, stockpicker Mary Meeker, ignore warning signs and fail to stock picker signal "sell" before the technology markets tanked? How did Bill Clinton's foreign policy advisers contribute to his neglect of the genocide in Rwanda? How do leaders like Saddam Hussein convince and coerce followers to abide, indeed to commit, unthinkable acts? How did "Chainsaw Al" Dunlap's callous behavior do him (and Sunbeam) in - and why didn't anyone stop him?

Daring and counterintuitive, Bad Leadership underscores that leadership is a shared responsibility no one can ignore. By forcing us to examine, and thereby to understand, leadership's dark side, Kellerman illuminates the ways that all of us can become better leaders and better followers.

Quoted from dust jacket.