Just Seven Things

Exploring why and how we do what we do, and how we can do it better

Leadership Traps: Thinking too Fast and Continuing Biases

I’ve been thinking about leadership traps I’ve read about recently (predominantly in Guy Claxton’s Hare Brain Tortoise Mind, but brought into relief by various mainstream Management Today, Fortune and FT articles)

By leadership traps I’m thinking of things (like ‘not reading management texts because of apparently being already ‘at the top of the tree”) that appear to be structural faults in a number of management and leadership teams and the nature of the relationships therein:

  1. The ‘sycophancy’ of leaders not being challenged, with the result that their beliefs and business/ life ‘filters’ drive the same types of decision-making that they always make
  2. Too busy and too fast: the super-human CEO. Carlos Ghosn (as much as I admire him) style of hyper-tasking – he is CEO of both Renault and Nissan. I wrote previously about whether the leadership position would have to morph over time into the thoughtful/ contemplative strategic CEO and the ‘hyper-executive’ Chief Operating Officer (COO). If the leader does not make time to sit back and think: to contemplate and percolate, who else will? And yet, the demands for efficiency and performance currently reach their nadir in the leader. Sitting and thinking or reading appears to be frowned upon…
  3. Challenging leadership teams: a flip on the first point above. George Prince is cited by Claxton in research on speculation (the exploring of tentative ideas in public) as being capped by management teams that are in any way competitive or judgemental ‘the victim of the win-lose or competitive posture is always speculation, and therefore idea production and problem solving’:  so if the leader does not work on an environment of constructive/ non-competitive challenge, then lack of idea production and problem solving will perpetuate too narrow a leader-led focus and unchallenged decision-making
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