Leading at a Higher Level: rising above leadership ‘BS’

Last week’s supermoon made me wonder what the world’s political, economic and environmental landscape will look like when it next graces our horizon in 2034.


These are in epoch-changing times, with political and economic systems up-ended for the first time in generations. With so much of our newsfeed filled by sensationalist commentary on the state of global political leadership, it’s essential to stay grounded, with sustainable, long-term growth in mind.

Does celebrity-style leadership work?

Jeffrey Pfeffer’s eponymous work Leadership BS, debunks many leadership stereotypes that have emerged in a celebrity-fixated era. His research demonstrates the lack of evidence that celebrity-style leadership delivers long-term sustainable business performance, in organisations large or small.

In fact, the everyday practices of highly effective leaders are calm, consistent, thoughtful, engaging of others, and often self-effacing. Steadfast leaders are mindful of the many traps that can so easily afflict those fixated with their own celebrity. How often do you manage to rise above these common leadership de-railers?

  1. Charisma is everything – celebrity is fleeting, and often unsubstantiated. Watch out for the 10% of the population who may be ‘dark-side leaders’, latent psychopaths, narcissists or with Machiavellian tendencies. These 'pseudo-leaders' can cleverly disguise themselves as ‘strong characters’.
  2. Time-out is for the weak – the most dangerous flaw in any holder of high office is a lack of personal insight or reflection. The most effective leaders ensure that they make time to think and reflect.
  3. Use high drama to get ahead – humans under stress can behave in a dramatic manner, and fuel drama in others. Higher level leaders choose to respond with only calm and rational thinking, even when others use alarmist behaviour to grab attention.
  4. Isolationism – being the one, powerful central figure inhibits growth, innovation and long term organisational resilience. The most adaptive leaders actively invest energy in developing the leadership potential of those around them
  5. Rely on rhetoric – saying something loudly and often enough does not make for a wise strategy. Insightful leaders use SMART data to inform their decisions, testing out the patterns trends and influences they observe.

At durhamlane we are privileged to work with many clients and colleagues who demonstrate higher level leadership capability every day, and this blog is dedicated to you all.

Are you ready to lead your business and team to the next level? Contact us to discover how our Leading at a Higher Level programme and coaching solutions, will put you on a path for sustainable, commercial growth.