Ethical Leadership - The experience of JCU's 3rd IBD cohort

Leadership: An Influence Relationship

Leadership is an influence relationship that can have both a positive and negative impact on followers.  Depending on whether the leader harnesses their visions for the benefit or detriment a business, organization or country the rewards and consequences can be long lasting. For many years leadership styles have been studied to determine if there are specific characteristics that predict whether an individual has the framework to be a great leader.  However, with the abundant amount of research on what it takes to be a great leader, a limited amount of time has been spent on bad leadership and why people continue to support these leaders.  Throughout the course of this literature review, the focus will center specifically upon types bad or toxic leadership and the role followers play in enabling it.  Different viewpoints of bad leadership will be reviewed in detail along with commentary on “the forces that propel followers, again and again, to accept, often favor, and sometimes create toxic leaders” (Lipman-Blumen 24).  Not only can bad leadership have a life altering effect on those directly involved, but it can greatly impact individuals’ that are worlds away for generations. 

 “To this day, psychologists have not sorted out which traits define leaders or whether leadership exists outside of specific situations, and yet we know with absolute certainty that a handful of people have changed millions of lives and reshaped the world” (Bennis 2).  What are the core competences that determine whether an individual will grow to be a successful leader?  What are those traits that one possesses that set them up to be extraordinary?  Is it possible to determine at an early stage whether great leaders will use their skills for good or bad to cultivate the next Martin Luther King Jr. while preventing the next Adolph Hitler?  While the answers to these questions have long been debated, Warren Bennis nicely sums up leadership as being “always a matter of values” (Bennis 1).  Throughout this review, bad leaders will differentiate themselves by consistently displaying several traits not seen in individuals widely portrayed as good leaders.

The majority of research into leadership has been viewed through the angle of good.  Those studied in detail include political types like Nelson Mandela or sports figures akin to Vince Lombardi in addition to business leaders like Steve Jobs.  It is often agreed that these individuals have achieved the extraordinary.  There has been significantly less research into the inner workings of bad leaders from those that are incompetent or outright evil.  As Barbara Kellerman puts it in her 2004 book Bad Leadership, What it is, How it Happens, Why it Matters, it may originate from our preference to go through live “accentuating the positive and eliminating the negative to be as happy and healthy as possible” (Kellerman 7).   When comparing our great leaders to our bad leaders, it quickly becomes apparent that they share many more traits than one would initially believe.

 As human beings, we are capable of neatly compartmentalizing our bad leaders as being a product of their situation and resist believing that our best leaders share common traits with our worst leaders.  It is easy to rationalize that Adolph Hitler was a product of his environment growing up in post World War I Germany or Angelo Mozilo formerly of Countrywide was consumed by more greed than any other self made billionaire.  The qualities that made both of these individuals’ bad leaders also made them overwhelmingly successful.  In the case of Hitler, his ability to “inspire, mobilize and direct followers” is a skill that Winston Churchill also shared in 1940’s Brittan (Kellerman 11).  The same correlations can be drawn between Mozilo’s drive to succeed and Apple’s widely praised CEO, Steve Jobs.  What transitions our once great leaders to bad leaders is subject of much debate, but can often tie back to the pedestal that they are put on where they can do no wrong as larger than life figures.

The media is also complicit in how we shape our views of leaders, encouraging a positive slant on those we regard as good and demonizing those who are deemed bad.  Particularly with the advent of cable news and the power of the internet, our views of people are being shaped by opinions guised as fact.  Whether it is political or in business, certain leaders are praised for achieving great heights.  While in some cases the impact of media may be innocuous, in the countries of North Korea and Iran, the state run media eliminate alternative opinions leading to a  one sided narrative on “the truth”.   The media often has trouble “resisting the seductive appeal of wily leaders” including Fidel Castro who was seen in earlier times as “an intriguing leader, notwithstanding signs of nascent toxicity” (Lipman-Blumen 13).

Toxic leaders are “individuals who, by virtue of their destructive behaviors and their dysfunctional personal qualities or characteristics, inflict serious and enduring harm on the individuals, groups, organizations and even the nations they lead” (Lipman-Blumen 2).  While these leaders are overall toxic, they do not “necessarily operate in toxic mode in all situations, not all of the time even in the same circumstances” (Lipman-Blumen 1).  This interesting point shows that a toxic leader may be great at developing strong relationships or even a great parent, but a destructive leader in the office.  These destructive behaviors include “leaving followers worse off than they found them by deliberately undermining, demeaning … terrorizing or killing; Violating the basic standards of human rights; Consciously feeding followers illusions that enhance the leader’s power; playing to the basest fears and needs of followers” in addition to less unethical happenings including “failing to nurture other leaders” (Lipman-Blumen 19,20). 

A toxic leader must be looked beyond the silo of one who only acts unethically.  They may be toxic due to their inability to lead the situation they are now responsible for.  This would be the case of a highly successful store manager being asked to lead a district following the departure of their area manager. The manager may be a highly successful store manager, but lack the functional skill necessary to lead the whole team.  This toxicity is not deliberate or from a lack of desire, but a lack of expertise for that particular role.  It is incumbent on their leader to have a high level of awareness to this individual post promotion.  Often in the case of a highly skilled new promote not being successful is a result of their inability to balancing personalities and lead a diversified group of varying skills to be their best.  It is critical that the view of a toxic or bad leader is not compressed to only ones that act unethically.  

An exploration into the specific personality characteristics of toxic leaders shows a more complete picture of their makeup.  The first characteristic, “a lack of integrity that marks the leader as cynical, corrupt, hypocritical or untrustworthy” is quite telling (Lipman-Blumen 21).  This type of leader will achieve results by any means necessary whether it is achieving quarterly numbers by manipulating the books, as Jeffrey Skilling of Enron was convicted of, or taking bribes for city contracts as Frank Russo has done in Cleveland.  A leader who lacks integrity is immediately toxic to their organization as this is one of the core principles of good leaders.  The next characteristics, “insatiable ambition that prompts leaders to put their fortunes above followers well being coupled with enormous ego’s that blind leaders to shortcomings or arrogance,” can bring down an organization quickly (Lipman-Blumen 21).  A profile is beginning to develop differentiating good leaders from bad.  Bad leaders cannot be counted on in times of need to put the strength of the organization above their personal needs.   

This perspective of bad leaders is astutely noted by, Barbara Kellerman who believes that “bad leaders can be ineffective, unethical or both” (Johnson 4).  She breaks bad leaders into seven types that include those that are “incompetent, lacking the motivation to sustain effective action; rigid, competent, but unyielding and unable to accept new ideas; intemperate, lacking self control and enabled by followers; in addition to those that are Callous, unkind or uncaring; Corrupt, lying or cheating; Insular, drawing a clear boundary between the welfare of their immediate group and outsiders; or evil, committing atrocities” (Johnson 6).  The compression of thought may cause individuals to see bad leaders as only being callous, corrupt or evil, however Kellerman shows with her profiles, bad leadership is much more.  These traits do not necessarily mean that the leader is ineffective.  There have been many cases where a callous, corrupt or evil leader, as in the case of Pol Pot, leader of the Cambodian communist movement, is highly effective in executing their plan with a committed group of followers...  

Every day our leaders are faced with a “unique set of ethical burdens in addition to a set of expectations and tasks.  These dilemmas involve issues of power, privilege, information, consistency, loyalty and responsibility” (Johnson 7).  Each decision has an impact on followers, whether it is countrymen in the case of a state leader, or employees and customers in the case of a business.   “Any person can aspire to lead. But leadership exists only with the consensus of followers” (Bennis 3). As a leader “power is the foundation for influence attempts” and there are five widely recognized types of power: coercive, reward, legitimate, expert and referent (Johnson 7).  Effective leaders balance all five types of power and change their approach given a particular context.  The power a leader has over their followers enables organizations to function as a single unit and successfully implement the leader’s plans.  In the case of the iPhone, the weight of an entire organization was working to develop a device that was unfathomable 5 years ago, a successful outcome.  However in the case of the Mexican drug cartels; their singular focus of growing their market share has resulted in tens of thousands of deaths.  When power is uncontrolled, it often ends with a negative outcome.

What are the reasons that our leaders fall victim to ethical failures?  Many leaders on the outside seem to have it all, from power to money and success, yet they still make decisions that have disastrous outcomes. Parker Palmer believes that “leaders project out the shadows of their inner darkness and it is important that they pay special attention to their motivations” (Johnson 26).   Their motivations may be a result of insecurity, fear, a battleground mentality where it is always us against them and that victory is the only acceptable outcome (Johnson 27).  These three motivators put both time and anticipatory stress on leaders and may result in unhealthy reactive actions. While it is healthy to have a small amount of these motivators, when they begin to consume an individual’s actions they can become unpredictable.  Parker goes on to point out that selfishness is another key cause of destructive behavior.  In the financial crash of 2007, it is no surprise that the leaders of many investment houses poured money into riskier and riskier instruments to achieve greater returns than their competition.  The result was that two venerable firms, Bear Sterns and Lehman Brothers took on more risk than their balance sheets could handle, resulting in their bankruptcies.    This selfishness as seen through “pride, greed and in some cases narcissism” resulted in the infamous and self-serving Lehman accounting trick of Repo 105’s (classifying short term loans as sales thereby removing debt from the balance sheet).  (Johnson 38).  These firms displayed Kellerman’s traits of intemperance and corruption by attempting to hide debt from the balance sheet to make earnings look better than they were.  It is interesting that in this case, to cover for one bad decision, taking on too much risk, other traits associated with bad leadership including a lack of integrity arose. 

The shadow of privilege has long brought down individuals and their organizations.  When people begin to believe that they deserve certain breaks because of who they are, unethical behavior is surely to follow. Thanks to Lassiez Faire or stretched to thin boards of directors, today’s CEO’s are more powerful and highly compensated than ever in the past.  However, leaders still find it necessary to bend the rules to gain even more of a financial reward.  This was apparent during the rash of backdated stock options that occurred in late 2005 and 2006.  CEO’s flush with power, believed they could get away with dating stocks options to time with the low point of their values, thus inflating their ability to cash out at more common stock prices.  These individuals, included Steve Jobs and Michael Dell, two highly successfully individuals with net worth’s in the hundreds of millions of dollars, showed that even they are not above exuding shadows of privilege.


Case 1

 Lehman Brothers: A Case in how Bad Leaders can Drive Great Results

            On September 15, 2008 the venerable global financial services firm, Lehman Brothers filed chapter 11 bankruptcy listing $613 billion in debt in what is to date the largest filing in history (Moore).  The firm, in operation since the 1850, was involved in investment banking, fixed-income sales and private equity was eventually brought down by its involvement in sub-prime mortgages.  The chief executive officer at the time of its bankruptcy was Richard (Dick) Fuld, a 39 year veteran of the company.

 During his tenure at the organization he successfully navigated it through its divestment from American Express, the 1997 Asian Financial Crisis and the September 11th attacks that sent markets into a turbulent period.  His track record was quite successful building the organization into a Wall Street powerhouse.  In fiscal year 2007, the year before its bankruptcy, the firm’s profits had risen to a record $4.2 billion. For the outstanding results, Fuld received a bonus of $22 million bringing his total compensation while leading Lehman to around $300 (Plumb & Wilchins).  How did an organization that netted over $4 billion in 2007 become insolvent in under a year?  Were there signs that a collapse was imminent?

            By 2007 Dick Fuld had been the longest tenured Wall Street CEO and the board of directors that surrounded him consisted of individuals who were unlikely to challenge the man nicknamed “the gorilla”. Fuld’s strength was solidified by the instability that beset the number two position which saw an average tenure of three years following the 1996 resignation of Chris Pettit.  Bradley Jack, the co-president from 2002-2004, received an $80 million severance package for his time in that position, one that included a demotion (Ward). For all the instability at the top the company still turned out exceptional results, mostly attributed to Fuld’s leadership abilities.  These extraordinary results were driven mainly by their growing involvement in risky sub-prime real estate.  In 2006 and 2007, the years that corresponded with some of their best results and Fuld’s biggest bonuses, the firm was the largest underwriter of mortgage bonds owning about 10% of the total market (Plumb & Wilchins). 

While few predicted the depth of the credit crisis, once it was apparent that one was on the way, the CEO’s of Bear Sterns, Merrill Lynch, Citi-Group and Bank of America were all forced out.  Fuld kept his position for nearly eight months following the bankruptcy, ultimately resigning in May of 2009.  Not long after the collapse of Lehman Brothers Dick Fuld sold his multi-million dollar estate to his wife, Kathleen for $100 (Adegoke).

Case 1 Questions:

1.      Which of Barbara Kellerman’s seven types of bad leadership were on display leading up to and during the collapse of Lehman Brothers?

2.      How can Richard Fuld be considered a toxic leader, while at the same time creating record profits?  Was he always toxic or did this begin to occur during the financial crisis?

3.      What were some of the leadership traits that Fuld possessed that eventually became part of his downfall? Are these traits of only bad leaders? Please explain.

4.      What were the shadows cast by Lehman Brothers leadership?



Case 1 Bibliography:

1.      Adegoke, Yinka. "Lehman's Fuld Sold Florida Mansion to Wife for $100." Business & Financial News, Breaking US & International News | Web. 05 Dec. 2010. <>.

2.      Moore, Heidi N. "An Update on the Lehman Bankruptcy, By the Numbers." Wall Street Journal 17 Oct. 2008. Print.

3.      Plumb, Christian, and Dan Wilchins. "Lehman CEO Fuld Hubris Contributed to Meltdown." Business & Financial News, Breaking US & International News | Web. 05 Dec. 2010. <>.

4.      Ward, Vicky. "Lehman's Desperate Housewives." Vanity Fair Apr. 2010. Web

The Followers’ Responsibility for Bad Leadership

Blame for bad leadership does not belong solely to the leaders themselves.  
Barbara Kellerman proposes that “students of leadership must embrace a holistic approach that leaders and followers are interdependent” (Kellerman).  She continues, “without followers, nothing happens, including bad leadership.  Together, leaders and followers can bring out the best in people, [...] or they can amplify what’s worst in people and leave murder and mayhem in their wake.  Obviously this finding has moral implications.  Leaders and followers share responsibility for leadership, bad as well as good” (Kellerman 226).

If bad leadership is reliant on the followers, why do followers allow toxic leaders to persist?  In “The Allure of Toxic Leaders,” Jean Lipman-Blumen explores the relationship followers have with toxic leaders and proposes there are “forces that propel followers, again and again, to accept, often favor, and sometimes create toxic leaders” (Lipman-Blumen 25). Whether followers are actively supporting or acting as a bystander, Kellerman and Lipman-Blumen agree that they are influenced by both internal and external factors.

Internal factors are those which are deep set in the follower’s psyche.  Lipman-Blumen categorizes these into two groups; one, “our psychological needs, rooted within our psyches,” and two “our existential needs, driven by the awareness of our mortality and our yearning for enduring life - real or symbolic” (Lipman-Blumen 25).   Kellerman echoes this by stating that “even bad leaders often satisfy our most basic human needs, in particular safety, simplicity, and certainty” (Kellerman 22).

Lipman-Blumen suggests the psychological factors that contribute to followers’ reliance to bad leaders is based on six basic needs and fears: “our need for reassuring authority figures to fill our parents’ shoes; our need for security and certainty, which prompts us to surrender freedom to achieve them; our need to feel chosen or special; our need for membership in the human community; our fear of ostracism, isolation and social death; and our fear of personal powerlessness to challenge a bad leader” (Lipman-Blumen 29).

In the “No Asshole Rule”, Robert Sutton notes two contributing internal factors; fear and the contrast effect.  Sutton agrees with Lipman-Blumen stating that “fear can be a powerful motivator, driving people to avoid the sting of punishment and public humiliation” (Sutton 163).  Followers yearn to preserve their image and reputation and fear a sense of isolation or disgrace.

Followers also have the deep-seeded need to please those in a place authority, stemming from our development relationship with our parents.  Sutton notes that this may contribute to the satisfaction followers feel by pleasing a difficult authority figure.  “The well-documented psychological “contrast effect’ helps explains why leaders such as [Bobby] Knight who have a history of demeaning and belittling their underlings - punctuated by warmth and praise - can generate much effort and loyalty” (Sutton 165).

The existential needs suggested by Lipman-Blumen drive the deep devotion and loyalty that leaders can arise from their followers.  She suggests that man’s “intense self-awareness” arouses “profound anxiety” on how and when we will die and simultaneously allows us to “recognize that infinite opportunities await us.”  Followers yearn for leaders to “offer a lifeline in an uncertain world,” serve as heroic and even godlike figures, “fulfill our search for security,” and to be at the center of something greater than ourselves (Lipman-Blumen 50-51).

There are also external influences that make followers receptive to toxic leaders.  Lipman-Blumen notes three: one, “the paradoxical coupling of external chaos and stability increases our anxiety;” two, “crises unleashes our anxieties and sends us scrambling for omnipotent, omniscient leaders to ‘keep us safe’;” and three “there are three key psychosocial forces - self-esteem, the achievement ethic, and the call to heroism - that influence our quest for immortality” (Lipman-Blumen)

These external factors couple with the internal factors to create the role that leaders fill, good or bad.  As Kellerman describes it, followers “go along with bad leaders because even bad leaders often provide important benefits.  In particular, leaders maintain order, provide cohesion and identity, and do the collective work” (Kellerman 23-24)

Bad leadership cannot persist without the context and followers which allow it.  “Bad followers mirror bad leaders.”  Each of Kellerman’s bad leadership types exists because of the followers that promote or tolerate the bad leadership.  Each of the six bad leadership styles has a style of followers that perpetuate the behavior.

The followers of incompetent leaders may be as incompetent as the leader and there is incompetence on all sides (Kellerman).  If the followers themselves are not incompetent, they should recognize the incompetence of the leader.  If they continue to follow under recognized incompetence, they have succumb to some combination of the internal and external influences discussed previously.

Under rigid leadership “at least some followers are stiff and unyielding.  Although they may be competent, they are unable or unwilling to adapt to new ideas, new information, or changing times” (Kellerman 75).   One example of a rigid leader is Mary Meeker, the former Wall Street securities analyst who was known as “Queen of the Net” for her opinions on tech stocks.  As an opinion leader, she was “able to get her followers to do what she wanted them to do not because she was in a position to order them around, but rather she was able to exercise influence. [...] The followers were free agents.  Just as she was rigid, so were they” (Kellerman 94).

Intemperate leaders are “aided and abetted by followers who are unwilling or unable effectively to intervene” (Kellerman 95) The leaders themselves lack control and the followers allow them to continue to act unscrupulously or serve as a distraction.  Their indiscretions may diminish their reputation to outsiders, whether it be corporate investors or voters, but for whatever reason, their followers stand by them and are unable to control the leader’s behavior.

Under callous leadership, “the leader and at least some followers are uncaring or unkind.  Ignored or discounted are the needs, wants, and wishes of most members of the group or organization, especially subordinates” (Kellerman 119).  Those followers that are not themselves callous allow their needs to be overlooked without taking any action.  However, “how much followers are willing to put up with has also changed” (Kellerman) over time.  Today’s followers will not allow callous leaders to treat them as poorly as in the past and are guaranteed better rights.

A portion of the followers of corrupt leaders “lie, cheat, or steal [and] put self interest ahead of public interest” (Kellerman 147).  In the example of William Aramony, who was convicted of conspiracy, fraud, money laundering, and filing false tax returns during his term as the CEO of United Way of America, his followers “fell into one of two groups: his close aides who actively facilitated Aramony’s wrongdoing, and the board members who passively tolerated his corruption”  (Kellerman 162). 

Under insular leadership, “at least some followers minimize or disregard the health and welfare of ‘the other’ - that is, those outside the group or organization for which they are directly responsible” (Kellerman 169).  An example of insular leadership is President Clinton’s avoidance to involving the U.S. in preventing the genocide which occurred in Rwanda in the early 1990’s and the lack of resistance he received. “His foreign policy team played the soldiers to his commander in chief.  As [expected], they followed his implicit if not explicit lead and did their best to avoid involving the U.S” (Kellerman 184).

The last bad leadership style is evil leaders, the followers of which fall into two groups. “First, when leaders commit atrocities and still stay in power for years on end, their followers are anesthetized, inflamed, or terrorized - or they are in some way rewarded.  Second, when leaders are evil some followers are also evil” (Kellerman 191).  Kellerman proposes that followers can also be bad.  “Followers who knowingly, deliberately commit themselves to bad leaders are themselves bad.  Followers’ dedication to bad leaders is often strongest when their leaders are very bad, as opposed to only somewhat bad” (Kellerman 25). 

“The most extensive study of bad followers has been the case of Nazi Germany.  At the risk of oversimplifying but in the interest of distinguishing among the kinds of followers, [Kellerman] will divide the Germans during the Nazi period into three groups: bystanders, evildoers, and acolytes. [...] Bystanders went along with Hitler and the Nazi regime, but they were not fervent Nazi’s. [...]  Evildoers were members of the units such as the SS-Einsatzgruppe. [...] Some were genuine sadists.  Others had been persuaded that they were killing ‘vermin.’  Still others turned brutal because they themselves were being brutalized by violence or the threat of violence.  Finally, however weak in retrospect this line of argument, German soldiers were like soldiers everywhere.  They were told what to do and they did it.  Acolytes were true believers: followers who were deeply committed to Hitler personally and to his political program” (Kellerman 26).

Whatever the bad leadership type, it cannot persist without the active support or acceptance through non-action of the followers.  Influenced by their deep-seeded psychological needs or external pressures, the followers are an essential half of the bad leadership influence relationship.

Case 2

MB 551: MBA Students Learn to Work Effectively a Difficult Professor

            During the Fall semester of 2010, a group of MBA students at John Carroll University concluded a leadership class led by an interactive and engaging professor.  After the final in their leadership class, the class transitioned to a new one credit hour class, MB 551 Ethical Decision Making class led by the same professor, Scott Allen.  Scott began the new class by explaining that he would be playing a character quite different from his true self.  He laid down two pieces of paper on a table and told us to begin the class, we didn’t have much time.  The pieces of paper he laid down were essentially the syllabus of the class, split into two parts.  The first was an explanation of Scott’s character, an “interesting cat,” who wasn’t well prepared for leading our class and used a seagull management approach.  The challenge was to engage him, design the structure of the class and assignments and meet all the requirements he set out for the class.  Part two was a list of the 37 requirements for the class.  These ranged from “writing a literature review on the topic of ethics” to interviewing the president of the university and other prominent public figures.  The class was to culminate at a leadership symposium of the class’s design in five weeks, at which the students had to prove they had completed all the class requirements and the attendees would grade the class as a group.

            The class had 5 weeks and 5 class meetings to achieve a long list of difficult tasks.  The “cat” made it clear in the first class that he would not offer much guidance.  In his absence, the class appointed George Sample as their leader.  The first class was chaos.  Confusion and anxiety set in quickly due to informational deficiency and lack of a positional leader.   The anticipatory stress grew even higher when the “cat” said goodbye for the evening and left the class reeling. The class was split between those who thought the list was impossible and they didn't actually have to do the items on the list.   A few classmates even left to go look for Scott hoping to find answers.  Many were unwilling to continue discussing the list without confirmation from Scott that we actually had to do the assignments.  The other half of the class began dissecting the requirements and bucketing them into groups of similar items and formulating the basics of a formal class syllabus.  The class disassembled for the night agreeing that the first priority was to e-mail Scott and verify that it was an actual assignment, and if it was (and it was) they agreed each table would outline two of the chapters in the book and draft a syllabus before the next class.

            The second class didn’t start off much better than the first.  The class was still in a state of chaos and the “cat” repeatedly interrupted the class with sarcastic and disruptive comments.  The class didn’t know how to respond to their professor playing this character.  Instead of attempting to engage him, the class made rude and dismissive comments back to the “cat” and did their best to ignore his presence.  Eventually, the “cat” became fed up and left the classroom again.  Tensions were high in the room.  Everyone was feeling the pressure of a large assignment and not much time. The class’s appointed leader George failed in many ways to engage the “cat” and lead the class in an effective manner due to his democratic approach when the class was searching for someone to give them the answers.   Hoping that they could work together in small groups and capitalize on their differences, the class put up a sign-up sheet to split into five assignment groups: 1. Interviews, 2. Symposium, 3. Research Paper, 4. Innovative Ideas, and 5. Educating Children.  Each of the 37 assignments was assigned to a group.  The class was beginning to feel somewhat better about their prospects, but due to lack of communication, the “cat” added 5 additional requirements mid-week.

            The mood in this class was much lighter than the first two, almost optimistic.  There was still apprehension and uncertainty about some items, but the class seemed better prepared to address these knowing that the bulk of the list had been assigned to the groups and they had a plan to address each item on the list.  The “cat” was different in this class, most likely because George used a proactive strategy and engaged him by asking him to visit each of the groups and discuss their plan.   He wasn't optimistic or encouraging, but he did offer helpful feedback and even offered suggestions for combining some of the items.  The class began brainstorming ways to design their final, each of which the “cat” shot down.  He challenged the class to be more innovative, with skin in the game, where success was both measurable and gradable.

            By the beginning of the fourth class, progress was being made by all the groups and a plan to complete nearly all the assignments was in place.  However the “cat” was upset with George who had not met their required communication deadline during the week.  This encounter stress disrupted the class, but George apologized for not meeting the baseline expectations they had agreed upon and promised he would going forward.  The class realized the best way to communicate with and engage the “cat” was to speak with him in the terms from their previous leadership class.  The biggest remaining open item was the final.  Two class members volunteered to lead the class through the Problem Solving Method they had learned in their leadership class.  It took the class past the scheduled time, but they brought the session to a conclusion and got the “cat” to agree to it.  The class realized they need to use multiple strategies to influence the “cat” to buy into their proposal.  Ultimately, they agreed the symposium was a final that met all the “cat’s” conditions and could be graded by the participants.

            The class stumbled their way through the requirements, but eventually they organized themselves and achieve the requirements of their professor.  They found that by capitalizing on their differences and leveraging their combined network, they could achieve what at first had appeared to be an insurmountable feat.   

Case 2 Questions:

  1. It is likely there was no right or wrong way to approach the class requirements, why did the class continually search for the “answers” to the class?
  2. George was faced with the challenge of leading from a non-positional role.  Why was the democratic approach probably not the best strategy for him to use?
  3. The class spent significant time stressing and arguing with each other.  What strategies could they have used to avoid this situation?

1.      Bennis, Warren. "The Challenges of Leadership in the Modern World: Introduction to the Special Issue." American Psychologist 62.1 (2007): 1-5. Print.

2.      Johnson, Craig E. Meeting the Ethical Challenges of Leadership: Casting Light or Shadow. Los Angeles: SAGE, 2009. Print.

3.      Lipman-Blumen, Jean. "The Allure of Toxic Leaders: Why Followers Rarely Escape Their Clutches." Ivey Business Journal (2005): 1-8. Print.

4.      Lipman-Blumen, Jean. The Allure of Toxic Leaders: Why We Follow Destructive Bosses and Corrupt Politicians--and How We Can Survive Them. Oxford: Oxford UP, 2005. Print.

5.      Kellerman, Barbara. Bad Leadership: What It Is, How It Happens, Why It Matters. Boston: Harvard Business School, 2008. Print.

6.      Sutton, Robert I. The No Asshole Rule. New York: Warner Business Books, 2007. Print.