Bad Leadership: What It Is, How It Happens, Why It Matters

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Overview


How is Saddam Hussein like Tony Blair? Or Kenneth Lay like Lou Gerstner? Answer: They are, or were, leaders. Many would argue that tyrants, corrupt CEOs, and other abusers of power and authority are not leaders at all--at least not as the word is currently used. But, according to Barbara Kellerman, this assumption is dangerously naive. A provocative departure from conventional thinking, Bad Leadership compels us to see leadership in its entirety. Kellerman argues that the dark side of leadership--from rigidity and callousness to corruption and cruelty--is not an aberration. Rather, bad leadership is as ubiquitous as it is insidious--and so must be more carefully examined and better understood. Drawing on high-profile, contemporary examples--from Mary Meeker to David Koresh, Bill Clinton to Radovan Karadzic, Al Dunlap to Leona Helmsley--Kellerman explores seven primary types of bad leadership and dissects why and how leaders cross the line from good to bad. The book also illuminates the critical role of followers, revealing how they collaborate with, and sometimes even cause, bad leadership. Daring and counterintuitive, Bad Leadership makes clear that we need to face the dark side to become better leaders and followers ourselves. Barbara Kellerman is research director of the Center for Public Leadership and a lecturer in public policy at the Kennedy School of Government, Harvard University.
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Editorial Reviews

Wall Street Journal
Ms. Kellerman's volume is elegantly written and a pleasure to read...
26 October, 2004
Publishers Weekly
"How," asks Kellerman, "will we ever stop what we refuse to see and study?" Research director of the Center for Public Leadership and lecturer in public policy at Harvard University's Kennedy School of Government, Kellerman focuses in opening chapters on the nature of leadership, the rise of a "leadership industry," the complicit role of followers, the definition of bad leadership and reasons for its occurrence. Kellerman's style combines the direct prose of the boardroom with the erudition of the classroom; relevant citations abound, from Machiavelli and Thomas Hobbes to Newsweek and Washington Monthly. Kellerman posits seven "types" of bad leadership and devotes a chapter containing a few brief examples and one detailed analysis to each. Drawing from the corporate, nonprofit, government and public opinion sectors, she examines instances of incompetence, rigidity, intemperance, callousness, corruption, insularity and even evil. Her focus isn't limited to individual behavior; context and the actions of followers are also considered. For example, the International Olympic Committee is faulted as much as its former president for scandals and commercialism that have sometimes undermined the games. High-level cabinet members, prominent legislators and the nation as a whole share the blame for the Clinton administration's failure to intervene in Rwanda's genocide. The stories, and Kellerman's final section of correctives, are complex and nuanced; there are no easy answers. (Sept.) Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781591391661
  • Publisher: Harvard Business Review Press
  • Publication date: 9/13/2004
  • Series: Leadership for the Common Good Series
  • Pages: 304
  • Sales rank: 302,836
  • Product dimensions: 6.50 (w) x 9.50 (h) x 1.00 (d)

Table of Contents

Introduction : webs of significance
1 Claiming the bad side 3
2 Reasons for being bad 15
3 Making meaning of being bad 29
4 Incompetent 51
5 Rigid 75
6 Intemperate 95
7 Callous 119
8 Corrupt 147
9 Insular 169
10 Evil 191
11 Costs and benefits 219
12 Comments and corrections 229
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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 24, 2008

    The other side of leadership

    In her book Barbara Kellerman presents the argument that leadership and followership are directly connected. She explains that bad leadership is the result in most cases of bad followership. She explains bad leadership by dividing it into seven types: incompetent, rigid, intemperate, callous, corrupt, insular, and evil. Bad leadership by Barbara Kellerman is the first book I read about the other side of leadership, a topic that should be discuss more often since bad leadership is leadership also. It helps leaders to understand what bad behavior looks like and how to avoid it completely. It brings a completely different approach since it introduces the followers as a possible cause for bad leadership. It is important that leaders and followers are able to identify what bad leadership looks like and are prepare to deal with it.

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