There is only so much good one noble person can do but there is no such upper limit to damage a bad actor can inflict. A good leader-manager can only make so much of a difference. But a bad one can just burn it all down.
Entrepreneurs and CXOs need to be every vigilant of letting in that one bad leader into their jungle. What’s worse, if you call one wolf, you invite the pack. Guy Kawasaki called it the ‘Bozo Explosion‘.
A bad manager can kill morale, weaken the systems, bypass the controls and wreck it all and frighteningly fast at that. What 10 good managers can do in 10 good years, 1 bad manager can undo in 1 (*citation needed). And it’ll usually take 10 NEW good managers 10 years of painful reconstruction to UNDO that bad guy’s damage. Good leaders can make a small positive difference but bad leaders can make a huge negative difference – because they drive good people out. Hiring (manning the gates) is THE most important job any manager has. Don’t simply delegate to HR and leave them to it. Do not consider it a soft job easily delegated. It’s the OPPOSITE.
This perspective is inspired by a masterpiece of an academic article called “Bad is Stronger Than Good,” which was published in 2001 by Roy F. Baumeister and three other colleagues. If you want to really dig in, I invite you to download Bad is Stronger Than Good.. it is very detailed but readable.
Essentially, the authors meticulously go through topic after topic — personal relationships, learning, memory, self-image, and numerous others — and show that bad packs a much stronger impact than good. They review a couple hundred diverse studies to make this point, and as they say at the end, the consistency of their findings about the disproportionate impact of bad things (compared to the power of good things)– like negative emotions, hostility, abuse, dysfunctional acts, destructive relationships, serious injuries and accidents, incompetence, and on and on — is depressingly consistent across study after after study.
This post is ‘dedicated’ to the all the bad bosses out there.
Kudos to your power.