Chapter 33. Bad Leadership—and Ways to Avoid It

Barbara Kellerman

After looking at hundreds of contemporary cases involving bad leaders and bad followers in the private, public, and nonprofit sectors, and in domains both domestic and international, I found that bad leadership falls into seven groups:

  • Incompetent

  • Rigid

  • Intemperate

  • Callous

  • Corrupt

  • Insular

  • Evil

To posit a typology is to invite argument. No less an expert than Max Weber, the German sociologist whose three types of authority—rational-legal, traditional, and charismatic—continue to influence leadership scholars some eighty years after his death, was wary of his critics. "The fact that none of these three ideal types... is usually to be found in historical cases in 'pure' form, is naturally not ...

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