The Biggest Mistake a Leader Can Make


Summary:  What is the most significant mistake a leader can make?

Bill George, Professor, Harvard Business School
They put their self interests in front of the best interests of the institutions and organizations they run.
The greatest failing of a leader – looking out for their own fame, power and money.
Drucker: Leadership is about responsibility.
A leader has a deep responsibility to the people they work with. the customers and the shareholders they serve.
Evan Wittenberg, Head of Global Leadership Development, Google, Inc.
Biggest mistake is betraying trust.
Trust is valued between leaders and everybody else.
Dr. Ellen Langer, Harvard Business School
Biggest mistake is being certain.
Things are constantly changing and are unpredictable.
If you think you know, you stop paying attention to changing conditions.
Since things are always changing uncertainty should be the rule.
Andrew Pettigrew, Said Business School, University of Oxford
Biggest mistake is to not live up to their values.
Leaders that do not live up to their values are rapidly found out and turned over.
Biggest reason why there is leader churn today.
Gianpiero Petriglieri. Affiliate Professor of Organizational Behavior, INSEAD
Biggest mistake is for the leader to become overly enamored with their vision.
In so doing they loose all capacity for self doubt.
They can become single minded in pursuit of a purpose.
Vision then moves from being a passion to an obsession.
The leader become vulnerable and loose capacity to look at consequences.
Carl Sloane, Professor Emeritus, Harvard Business School
Biggest mistake is arrogance and personal hubris.
Confusing the size and success of the enterprise with their individual persona.
This creates greater social and power distance which is demotivating for most organizations and people.
This increases chances of making big mistakes.
Jonathan Doochin, Leadership Institute at Harvard College
Biggest mistake is acting too fast and executing before thinking through the issue.
Leader should step back, consult management team, think through suggested actions, formulate action and then execute.
Scott Snook, Associate Professor, Harvard Business School
Two biggest mistakes leaders make are:
1.) Its all about the leader and not about something bigger than themselves and
2.) Being inconsistent, not being authentic and predictable (who are they today?).
Daisy Wademan Dowling, Executive Director, Leadership Development at Morgan Stanley
Biggest mistake or trait is to not be self reflective.
They do not constantly review their behavior and how they can develop themselves.
They do not think about how their behavior affects other people.
They need to be able to hold a mirror up to themselves and have an honest conversation on how they are doing, what effect their leadership is having on other people.
Worst leaders are those that just bulldoze forward, plow forward in life, not looking back on the past and learning as they go, not being self-aware of how they are affecting people around them.

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