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Bad Leadership: What It Is, How It Happens, Why It Matters is a book written by Barbara Kellerman, lecturer in public policy at Harvard University's Kennedy School of Government. The book was published in 2004 by Harvard University Press (ISBN: 1591391660).

Barbara Kellerman catalogues seven human flaws that have caused various politicians, company directors and other individuals to make serious errors of judgement. She explains how these flaws are likely to go unchecked in many organisations, and she provides several compelling examples of people falling from grace.

Incompetence: The leader lacks the skills or will to be continually effective.

Rigidity: The leader fails to adapt to new circumstances, ideas and opportunities.

  • Vladimir Putin; Beslan, the Moscow theatre siege, the Kursk - all could led to better outcomes if he had not been so dogmatic, unyielding and abrasive to outside help.
  • Mary Meeker; the Queen of the Net share-market pundit who failed to notice indicators that the dot com age was about to collapse in early 2000.

Intemperance: The leader lacks self-control.

Callousness: The leader is uncaring and unkind to individuals and the organisation.

Corruption: The leader lies, cheats and steals.

Insularity: The leader disregards the welfare of those outside the organisation or outside the core of the organisation.

  • Bill Clinton: Criticised by Barbara Kellerman of ignoring the plight of Rwandans.
  • Lee Raymond: President of Exxon at the time when Exxon Valdez ran aground and polluted the Alaskan coast. Courts regarded it as "reprehensible" that the company allowed a known drunk to pilot the oil tanker, and got so annoyed with Exxon continually appealing that it increased punitive damages from $4 to $4.5 billion plus interest (after they had been initially reduced from $5 billion).

Evil: The leader is prepared to be gratuitously malevolent to achieve their goals.

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