Leaders in control

Leaders have far less control over organisations than many people believe. Research suggests their actions rarely explain more than 10% of the difference in performance between the best and worst organisations.

by Stanford Business Magazine
Last Updated: 23 Jul 2013

Outside events, industry and other company-specific factors are generally much more important.

The danger of making things much worse means that avoiding bad leaders can be more important than seeking great leadership. As well as hurting financial performance, bad leaders can drive skilled and motivated people into the arms of competitors, or cause remaining employees to withhold discretionary effort.

However, leaders themselves have financial incentives in perpetuating the myth that they are in control. Because of their discretion over rewards and resources, underlings also have an interest in flattering this belief. It is argued that leaders should act as if they are in control and project confidence, while recognising and acknowledging organisational realities and their own limitations.

The half-truths of leadership
Jeffrey Pfeffer and Robert I Sutton, Stanford Business Magazine, May
2006.

Reviewed by Steve Lodge.

Find this article useful?

Get more great articles like this in your inbox every lunchtime

Is it favouritism to protect an employee no one likes?

The Dominic Cummings affair shows the dangers of double standards, but it’s also true that...

Masterclass: Communicating in a crisis

In this video, Moneypenny CEO Joanna Swash and Hill+Knowlton Strategies UK CEO Simon Whitehead discuss...

Remote working is no substitute for a good office

EKM's CEO Antony Chesworth has had no problems working from home, but he has no...

5 rules for work-at-home productivity

And how to focus when focusing feels impossible.

Scandal management lessons from Dominic Cummings

The PR industry offers its take on the PM’s svengali.

Why emails cause conflict

And what you can do about it.