le 27 octobre 2013
Leadership without moral standards is a serious issue as the desire for more power is addictive, as the author correctly states on page 196. Can you expect that leaders that are addicts to act responsibly? Of course not!
In every ordered society you will find a government, businesses and many other organization. Every organization has a leader at the top and leaders at several levels below him or her, the hierarchy. The leaders at the top can and has to make decisions only he can make because he is the only one that can see the total picture. His decisions have far greater consequences than those in the level below, even though the decisions at all levels including executing tasks like selling and producing have to made too for an organization to survive. To make decisions get them executed requires power. Power is necessary, automatic as it comes with a position in the hierarchy. An organization without a functioning power structure is in chaos or anarchy.
Power has to be exercised responsibly. That implies that the power holder must consider what is best for the organization or part of it for which he is responsible. A leader that bases his decisions on what increases his power and salary the most will often make the decisions that are not in the interest of the company.
In my view power is a means to an end, to get done something useful. If power becomes an end in itself as the author recommends, it becomes addictive. There many examples in the book of the desire for power determining the action, regardless of a moral standard. Just one important example
The Board of Directors is legally responsible that the Chief Executive acts in the interest of the company as a whole and not in his own personal interests. What is the author's advice? On page 175 the case is described of a chief executive that engages a compensation consultant to prove that he was underpaid. This is a well-known trick. The chairman of the compensation committee of the board objected to the raise. The CEO won, and the CEO saw to it that the Chairman of the compensation left the board. The lesson of the author, " if you want to keep your position go along".
Of course this happens. Should the moral standard of a member of the board be to not say anything the Chef Executive does not like? Of course not. A board member that does not intervene when he becomes aware that the CEO was not acting in the interest of the company may be sued. If you want to know what a responsible board member would do, read, "Boards that deliver" by Ram Charan to get a second opinion.
This is just one example of the wrong advice. It would take many pages to describe all the recommendations that show dubious moral standards. Be warned, keep in mind the fate of ENRON with leaders that manipulated and aimed for power and wealth, one is still in prison.
The book is definitely helpful to leaders that decide on promotions to weed out the power-wealth driven manipulators. Here and there you can find useful ideas like in the section about networking and examples of taking initiatives.
A great deal of what the book describes is common sense, like do not tell your boss that he should stop getting angry. Read it with a critical mind, do not feel flattered when you read something you already knew and feel happy that the author agrees with you, remember that one lesson is you as a reader can never be flattered too much (p. 35), and most important, do not fall in the trap of becoming a power-addicted leader.