Archive | Leadership

When Promoting People, Beware the False Record Effect

After writing about several examples of bias from insensitivity to sample size, a former colleague asked whether I thought performance in the workplace was subject to the same bias. She observed that people were sometimes rewarded or even promoted for high performance, even if that performance was sporadic rather than sustained. She asked: Shouldn’t the…

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In Business, Informal Tribes Matter More Than Formal Teams

Not long after I joined my last employer, a colleague provided me with an incredibly important insight on how to get things done. Informal networks, she explained, were much stronger than the official hierarchy. Top-down decisions were usually met with questions which delayed their implementation. On the other hand, powerfully-connected people could implement decisions virally…

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A One-Question Test for Narcissism

Do you know someone you think is a narcissist? A narcissistic personality is characterized by inflated views of the self, extreme vanity, and obsessive self-importance. The term comes from the mythical Greek character, Narcissus, who fell in love with his own image reflected in a pool of water. Entranced by his own beauty, Narcissus stared…

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How Much of Leadership Is About Theater?

For reasons not worth getting into, this past week I was reminded of a decade-old HBS discussion entitled “How Much of Leadership Is About Control, Delegation, or Theater?” The original discussion was prompted by a claim from Stanford Professor Jeffrey Pfeffer that leaders only explain 10% of a company’s performance. Instead, a company’s current performance…

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