We’ve all seen the signs of a floundering first-time CEO: leadership attributes and behaviors we can all agree are not only ineffective but sometimes harmful. Although well-intended, there are four damaging leadership attributes and behaviors first time CEOs often display:
• Over-helping: First time CEOs are often eager to help their new teams gain trust and build relationships. However, this instinct can occasionally turn into over-helping, which often becomes micromanaging or functional leadership.
• Egocentrism: Perhaps born from a fear of failure or insecurity, first-time CEOs often fall into the trap of being driven by their egos. They take on the hero mentality and the accompanying sense of martyrdom.
• Overcapacity: While CEOs should be eager to get involved, they shouldn’t book themselves over capacity. Frequently, first time CEOs try to do so much they become frantic and unavailable. At the worst of times, this devolves into seagull management.
• Ambiguity: At the start of a first time CEO’s tenure, it may seem like the game is moving too fast. As such, the organization may suffer from an unclear vision, strategy and culture. This can manifest in slow or poor decision making and living in ambiguity. Continue reading
by Kaitlin Woolley and Ayelet Fishbach
When interviewing for your next job, how can you impress your recruiter and increase your chances of securing a job offer? Of course you may wish to emphasize your ambitions and goals you hope to achieve as a result of working at the company — your extrinsic motivation for the job. But to what extent should you also emphasize your love for your work and what you hope to achieve as part of the process of working at the company? This comprises your intrinsic motivation for the job, and most of us understand how important it can be to sustained engagement at work; but do recruiters care to hear this?
Our research suggests that they do — and that job applicants aren’t taking advantage of that. Indeed, we have found that people fail to predict the power of such a statement of intrinsic motivation on the impression they make.
To examine this prediction problem — the discrepancy between what candidates think will impress recruiters and what recruiters actually find impressive — we surveyed 1428 full-time employees and MBA students across five studies. Some provided their predictions, guessing what recruiters would find impressive when hiring a job candidate. Others told us what they actually valued when making hiring decisions.
by Jared Lafitte
Leadership is not defined by a title or a position, a record of experience or an accumulation of knowledge. That’s why there are many in positions of power who have great expertise and experience, yet are poor leaders.
Leadership is a practice that requires mastery of several key behaviors that transfer vision and motivate action. Like any behavior, they are meant to be learned, practiced, repeated and sharpened. Leadership should be pursued primarily as a set of practices to be developed and not as a position to be attained. When leaders learn to make this distinction between position and practice, they are crossing what I call the leadership threshold: a conceptual line that divides leadership grounded upon expertise, experience and authority (positional leadership) from leadership grounded upon behaviors and practices (behavioral leadership).
One way to nuance this is to say that experience, expertise and authority serve as crucial supplements to leadership, but generally do not themselves create leadership. Like logs in a fireplace, an accumulation of knowledge and experience provides fuel for the fire of leadership, but it is only behaviors such as conviction, communication and influence that provide the spark to set it ablaze. Crossing the leadership threshold means learning to view expertise, experience and authority as supportive but not primary. Continue reading
by Jennifer Petriglieri and Gianpiero Petriglieri
There were many late nights during Thomas’s time at a private equity firm, but two of them really stand out. On the first, he was at a bar. Earlier in the day, his boss had let him know that he was the top performer in his cohort. Over drinks that evening, he struck up a conversation with a partner at a rival firm. “You’re the guy who closed two deals in six months, aren’t you?” the man asked. It was a moment Thomas had dreamed of and worked for since leaving his small town for college, the first in his family, years before.
On the second, he was at his desk, working on a high-profile IPO. He was the only associate on the deal—the kind of assignment reserved for top talent on the firm’s fast track to partnership. Dawn was breaking, and he had no memory of the past six hours, even though his e-mail and phone logs chronicled a busy all-nighter. A neurologist later ran some tests and warned him of the dangers of sleep deprivation. “I would go to bed at five, wake up at seven with palpitations, and go to work,” Thomas recalled. “I never stopped to think that it was wrong. It’s how it works, I told myself. Everyone does it.”
Thomas slowed down briefly after the doctor’s warning but soon came back full throttle. His talent and drive were intact, though somehow he’d lost his sense of purpose. He created an opportunity for the firm to do a $1.3 billion deal, and then surprised his bosses by suddenly quitting. His performance was strong and his prospects bright as ever, but as he put it when we spoke, he had fallen victim to a vicious cycle: “I did not want to step off the fast track, so I could not slow down.” Thomas felt trapped by his firm’s expectations, but his desire to prove deserving of his bosses’ endorsement kept him from challenging the culture or asking for support. He felt both overwhelmed and underutilized, and concluded that this firm was not the right place to realize his leadership ambitions. Continue reading