Today, I stumbled on a video from Harvard Business Review (HBR) titled, “The Biggest Mistake a Leader Can Make.” In this video, HBR interviews several leading leadership experts asking them, “What is the biggest mistake a leader can make?” Here are their responses:
“Putting their self-interest ahead of the best interest of the institutions or organizations they run.” – Bill George, Professor, Harvard Business School and former Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Medtronic.
“Betraying trust.” – Evan Wittenberg, Head of Global Leadership Development, Google Inc.
“Self-centeredness and being inauthentic.” – Scott Snook, Associate Professor, Harvard Business School and retired Colonel, US Army Corps of Engineers.
“Arrogance.” – Carl Sloane, Professor Emeritus, Harvard Business School.
“Failing to live up to their espoused values.” (He says leaders who do that are quickly found out) – Andrew Pettigrew, Professor, Said Business School, University of Oxford.
“Failing to embrace uncertainty. The biggest mistake a leader can make, I believe, is being certain. Things are constantly changing. Times are unpredictable. When we confuse the stability of our mindsets with the stability of the underlying phenomenon, we act as if we know. When you think you know, you don’t pay attention anymore. Why bother since you know?” — Dr. Ellen Langer, Professor, Harvard University.
“Becoming too enamored with their vision that they loose all capacity for self-doubt.”– Gianpiero Petriglieri, Affiliate Professor of Organizational Behavior, INSEAD.
“Acting too fast. Executing before thinking through the issue.” – Jonathan Doochin, Leadership Institute at Harvard College.
“Lacking self-reflection” – Daisy Wademan Dowling, Executive Director, Leadership Development at Morgan Stanley.
What is the thread that runs through all these responses?
A lack of character. A leader with a strong character will avoid all the mistakes given above. Failure in personal character development is the biggest mistake a leader can make.
You can watch the HBR video at: The Biggest Mistake a leader can make.