Why Do We Tolerate Bad Leaders?
Magnificent Uncertitude, Anxiety, and Meaning
To peruse Warren Bennis's remarkable oeuvre is to explore an encyclopedia of leadership. Themes are introduced and developed, then recur later more richly embellished with nuance and depth. Here, I shall select just a few of Bennis's recurring motifs—uncertainty, democratic institutions, and the limitations of leaders—to explore a frequently ignored question that bears directly on the quality of future organizations: Why do we so frequently tolerate poor, even evil, leaders? I shall use another concept—anxiety—as the needle to stitch together these seemingly unrelated themes.
Many authors examine leadership in terms of the rapidly ...