When Good Leaders Go Bad
The book: Tipping Sacred Cows: Kick the Bad Work Habits That Masquerade as Virtues, by Jake Breeden.
The big idea: Leaders pride themselves on traits such as creativity and passion. But unquestioned virtues curdle into vices when pursued relentlessly or in the wrong contexts.
The backstory: Breeden is on the faculty of Duke University's executive education program and consults for corporations including Google and IBM.
If you read nothing else: Each chapter corresponds to a particular leadership trait. So take a look in the mirror and choose accordingly. Obsessed with innovation? Chapter Four asks whether your creative energy can be better applied elsewhere, such as improving existing products. Crazy for collaboration? Chapter Three points out that most people work better alone. So resist forming teams--or at least make them temporary.
Don't "Just Do It": Passion becomes destructive when leaders subvert other values, burn out their workers, or dismiss ideas that counter their beliefs, says Breeden. Or when that passion stems from insecurities. He suggests passionate leaders ask themselves, "Am I trying to prove something to myself or someone else?"
Rigor rating: 7 (1=Who Moved My Cheese?; 10=Good to Great). Breeden trots out plentiful research results. But, like many consultants concerned with client privacy, he rarely reveals which companies or leaders his anecdotes describe.