The Dark Side of High Achievement (Hat Tip--William Reichard via Google Plus)
In the movies and on stage, the leader usually fails because “absolute power corrupts absolutely,” a la Charles Foster Kane. Or, as in the case of Macbeth, the leader is tortured by thoughts of a sin for which he can never atone. In real life, however, many managers face similar problems even when they have committed no major sins and when their power is far from absolute. Indeed, becoming isolated and self-obsessed is something every business leader should fear, not just corporate titans but also middle managers and owners of small companies. To the detriment of their firms, their employees, and most of all themselves, many managers cling to the techniques that got them to the top long after those techniques have become obsolete.Culture matters. A socially networked culture matters more. A team environment is intrinsic to a socially networked culture. High performer sports teams know this. They protect their top talent.
One reason for this has to do with the personal attributes that lead to success within an organization, says Thomas DeLong, Professor of Management Practice at Harvard Business School. Characteristics such as a high need for achievement and a focus on task accomplishment, which are invaluable in precocious new employees, can lead to counterproductive habits once a person has attained a managerial position. High achievers, while intelligent and hard working, are often terrible at taking criticism and examining their own weaknesses. Driven by their need for tangible accomplishments, these people end up managing their professional images at the expense of their core skills and their personal relationships.
This also illustrates the strength of a learning organization. Today's socio-economic environment is evolving too fast, is too chaotic, too complex for anybody's knowledge, skills and techniques to last long.
A learning organization understands this, and creates an environment where learning is part of the everyday experience.