The 10 Fatal Flaws of Leadership

Jack Zenger and Joseph Folkman recently published a poignant list of attributes that “derail leaders” in the June 2009 issue of the Harvard Business Review (p. 18). They are worth considering given that it’s going to take strong leadership–civil and business–to turn our country around. The worst leaders:

1. Lack energy and enthusiasm.

2. Accept their own mediocre performance.

3. Lack clear vision and direction.

4. Have poor judgment.

5. Don’t collaborate.

6. Don’t walk the talk.

7. Resist new ideas.

8. Don’t learn from mistakes.

9. Lack interpersonal skills.

10. Fail to develop others.

Think about the leaders in your life who have influenced you and made a positive impact on you. How many of these attributes did they exhibit regularly? If I were to add an attribute to Zenger and Folkman’s list it would be that the worst leaders believe leadership is about being right, not doing the right thing. This flaw is based on pride, lack of ethics and an unwillingness to recognize that even a leader is falible. And one of the principles taught by Warren Bennis is that managers do things right. Leaders do the right thing.

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