Over the weekend, I got an unscheduled call from one of the employees at a company that I’m currently doing some consulting with. There was nothing unusual about that in itself, as I had made it clear that I was available to pretty much anyone within the organization whenever they felt the need to reach out. This particular employee was calling specifically to ask for my help in getting out of “the stands” and getting back “on the court.” He had just found out that he had been turned down for a promotion that he felt he deserved. He had been doing all the right things and he just knew the formal announcement was coming, only to find out that someone else had gotten the position. Needless to say, the news had left him seriously demoralized and disappointed in himself, and he made the wise decision to seek a little outside support.
I have been abundantly blessed with the success I have enjoyed during my 31-year corporate career and now as an independent consultant. Looking back, I can clearly see that much of my personal growth as a leader came about while I grappled with the challenges of the turnaround situations I was deployed to. There were at least 7 of those that I can recall, and they all served a purpose in some form of fashion. Although it was painful at the time, I can’t help but credit the most rapid and powerful growth spurts in my career to behaviors I saw from bad bosses that I was clear I should never emulate.
A couple of weeks ago, I attended a conference where a behavioral scientist was making a case for the fact that having information does not necessarily lead to behavior change. As I like to put it: it isn’t knowing what to do, but doing what you know, that makes all the difference. While we all accept that we have to know better before we can do better, many of us confuse the former for the latter, and this is where we end up getting held back.
We’re going to jump right back into the discussion we started in last week’s post, “Why Good Leaders Go Bad: Brilliant Jerks,” and continue our exploration of the anatomy of brilliant jerks. In this post, we’re specifically going into how resistance to change factors into why good leaders go bad. This is also another post on the longer side, so without further ago, let’s get back into it
This week on the blog, in somewhat a change of pace, we are going to get a little topical. Over the weekend, I had an experience that taught me a few important lessons about what it means to be a leader, and I thought this experience would make an equally valuable teachable moment for my readers and followers. I don’t know if I could sum up the lesson in a single phrase, but what became clear to me as a result of this experience is that confidence without humility results in loss of credibility and arrogance in any form erodes one’s ability to be a leader. So, this week, I want to begin a multi-part series to explore why and how good leaders go “bad.” The topic for this week is the anatomy of the “brilliant jerk.” We’ll be looking at this specific incident, uncovering its implications for leadership in general, and figuring out what it means with regard to what leaders owe to themselves and others.