Why are so many leaders dreadful?

While the bosses who prevail over regressive working environments will always exist, these troubled times are conspiring to demand better, writes Caroline Bullock

Sunday 16 January 2022 21:30
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<p>Trouble at the top: the qualities pertaining to good leadership are a rare and precious thing </p>

Trouble at the top: the qualities pertaining to good leadership are a rare and precious thing

In his new book, Corruptible: Who Gets Power and How it Changes Us, academic Brian Klass has a simple question: “Why are so many leaders dreadful?”

I’m curious, too, having experienced first-hand the sorry mix of obsessive hierarchy, cliques and rudeness that can manifest when authority is warped by ego, insecurity, and the accumulated detritus of life’s dissatisfactions.

Revealing that psychopaths are far more common in the boardroom than in the population at large, Klass seeks to establish whether some leaders are natural bullies or if power itself corrupts them. For me, however, it prompts another seminal question: in a post-pandemic workplace, where we are seeing a shake-up of the foundations that have long supported more oppressive working cultures, can bad bosses survive anyway?

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