One of my Intel colleagues, a Harvard MBA told me a story of HBS students eager to take John Kotter‘s leadership class, at the time called “Power & Influence.” The students thought that Kotter’s course would teach them how to become calculating and ruthless. He amusingly remembered that Kotter’s course taught them the exact opposite: managers must first learn to be humble, connect and gain the respect of their colleagues and subordinates, before attempting to lead, or they would be doomed. Kotter’s book of the same name is filled with case studies of “ruthless” people who failed and those with humility who succeeded.
One of my most popular posts from July 8, 2013 Harvard Business School Professor John P. Kotter Years […]
For over a year now I have blogged here about the red flags flying about Travis Kalanick and Uber. Many investigative articles have been published over this time, in the New York Times and other publications, which have raised disturbing questions about Uber, Kalanick and some members of his team. The Board of Directors has finally taken action but it feels like its a day late and a dollar short. Why did it take so long? I have bluntly used the epithet that “Uber is Trump,” but now on reflection, it is more apt to describe Uber as Enron the sequel, and “deja vu all over again.” Remember the audio of two Enron electricity traders laughing about “screwing grandma?” That is Uber.
Humility and Leadership Go Hand in Hand
There is a fundamental truth here. Pope Francis and the Harvard Business School are aligned.
I personally have seen in my past career, and personally experienced how simple humility is a key characteristic of leadership. This may seem counter-intuitive but it is not. People are drawn to the charisma of a leader who is also simply humble, and who appreciates the values of those he or she leads. A leader like that can get subordinates to follow them anywhere. I think there may even be an inverse relationship in human behavior between hubris, and leadership success. By that I mean that the more arrogant and overbearing a person, the more insecure he may actually be, and therefore less successful in the subjective art of leadership.
In a bizarre sequence of events this week, I have yet again witnessed someone literally self-destruct as a leader due to their failure to exhibit simple humility and to be aware of other stakeholders, whose support or not, could make or break the leader.. Successful leadership is a fragile thing, a subjective human experience. I have written about this phenomenon previously on this blog.
Harvard Business School Professor John P. Kotter Years ago I was invited to join a newly forming Intel […]