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      The curse of the superstar CEO.

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      Harvard business review

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          Abstract

          When struggling companies look for a new chief executive today, the one quality they prize above all others is charisma. But once they've recruited a larger-than-life leader, they often find that their troubles only get worse. Indeed, as the author's new research painfully reveals, the widespread belief in the powers of charismatic CEOs can be problematic. Why? First, Khurana says, there's no conclusive evidence that charismatic leadership affects an organization's performance. And yet--as Kodak's story over the past decade reveals--when a company is faltering, boards feel compelled to oust the incumbent chief executive and bring in a corporate savior. Second, the insistence on finding a charismatic leader, combined with the undefinable nature of charisma, results in selection processes that are overly conservative and even irrational. Boards end up considering only candidates who have already achieved the rank of CEO or president at a high-performing, high-profile company, even if they are not right for the job. Third, charismatic leaders deliberately destabilize organizations. This can result in a more vibrant company, as it did at General Electric during Jack Welch's tenure, but it can also leave a troubled legacy for the organization to overcome, as GE, Ford, and Enron have all found. Faith in a company, a product, or an idea can unleash tremendous innovation and productivity. But the extravagant hopes invested in charismatic CEOs resemble not mature faith but a belief in magic. If we are willing to reconsider our notion of leadership, this age of faith can be followed by an era of faith and reason.

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          Author and article information

          Journal
          Harv Bus Rev
          Harvard business review
          0017-8012
          0017-8012
          Sep 2002
          : 80
          : 9
          Affiliations
          [1 ] Harvard Business School, Boston, USA.
          Article
          12227147
          deaa2679-7c91-43f0-993f-0b55ef48b1b1

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