Executives are bombarded with promotional materials about enhancing their leadership skills, usually without clear distinction among public, private, and independent sector leaderships. Neither all sectors nor all organizations within each sector are functionally equivalent: One-size fits all instruction is a waste of resources, unless the real objective (cf. the advertised objective) is development of the skill of getting others to do things that impair their best interests. Most individuals are naturally inclined to do what benefits them – no great skills of argumentation from the governance and management structures are required here. However, getting individuals to work routinely 75 hours per week notwithstanding the family at home or getting individuals to transgress ethical boundaries with other stakeholders, including customers and co-employees, indeed requires special skills (and authenticity is not likely one of these skills).
Having recently read an article in a popular periodical about authenticity and leadership, I embarrassingly first thought that too many executives are for whatever reason immersed in a culture way too remote from the commonly shared culture of real friendship in which most individuals are naturally acclimated. If the real objective of these training programs is to perfect the art of bamboozling employees and other stakeholders into deferring their own needs for the benefit of their leaders, perhaps these programs’ developers are not really the right persons for this type of instruction. Fraudsters such as Madoff may prove more adept at imparting the necessary information to hone these skills of bamboozlement.