What makes Leadership "EW!"? Research done by OD psychologist Jennifer Mueller from San Diego University finds that creativity and leadership potential are strongly negatively correlated--the more creative the response, the less effective a leader appeared to the responder. Ms. Mueller's most recent study builds on this dilemma. She found that many managers face what might be called a creativity dilemma: their desire for novel ideas and creative workers is at odds with their need to provide practical order. The result of this dilemma, in many cases, is that an aversion to novelty rules the day. Listen to NPR hosts DavidGreene and Steve Inskeep, discuss this with Jennifer Mueller and Shankar Vedantam.
This could explain what I've seen in your organizations, and not been able to see in mine. Leaders are oblivious to their own destructive leadership practices. They get 360 feedback, it's on their reviews, and still it isn't seen. I assumed that it was normal denial, but the research describes it as a blind spot due to a complete focus on 'checking things off efficiently.' There is no time to deal with feedback from people closest to you, so why absorb it? Malcolm Gladwell told the story of Xerox engineer Gary Starkweather, who conceived of a laser printer circa 1970 but was forbidden to pursue it by a boss. Starkweather developed a prototype in his spare time and forced the company to transfer him so he could finish it. Let's explore several "EW's!" of Leadership and open our eyes to things leaders, like me cannot see.