Leadership from Bad to Worse: What Happens When Bad Festers

  • 10h 9m 41s
  • Barbara Kellerman
  • Recorded Books, Inc.
  • 2024

Leadership from Bad to Worse is about how leadership that is bad, invariably, inexorably, gets worse—unless it is somehow, by someone or something, stopped or slowed.

This work draws on four cases of bad leadership—two in political leadership, two in business leadership—to show how it goes from bad to worse. Kellerman finds that bad leadership and bad followership go through four phases of development: 1) Onward and Upward; 2) Followers Join In; 3) Leaders Start In; and 4) Bad to Worse. These findings correctly suggest that the book, in addition to being of theoretical interest, is of practical import. It is intended, deliberately, to serve as an early warning system. By breaking bad leadership and followership into phases—each more ominous and ultimately dangerous than the one preceding—their progression will be easier to predict and detect. And easier, therefore, to slow or, preferably, to stop before they turn toxic.

Bad leadership is a social disease. But unlike diseases that are physical or psychological, it remains at the margins of our collective concerns. Leadership from Bad to Worse is, then, a corrective. Knowing that bad leadership can be checked before it corrupts is knowing that bad and then worse can be, if not completely precluded, then sometimes short-circuited.

About the Author

Barbara Kellerman was Founding Executive Director of the Center for Public Leadership at the Harvard Kennedy School; the School's James MacGregor Burns Lecturer in Leadership; and a member of the Harvard faculty for over twenty years. She is currently a Fellow at the Center. Kellerman has held professorships at Fordham, Tufts, Fairleigh Dickinson, George Washington, Uppsala, and Christopher Newport Universities, as well as at Dartmouth and its Tuck School of Business. Kellerman is author and editor of twenty books on leadership/followership.

In this Audiobook

  • Prologue: The Present
  • Chapter 1 - Democracy in Decline and Capitalism in Question
  • Chapter 2 - Followership and Leadership in the Twenty-First Century
  • Chapter 3 - Making Meaning of Being Bad
  • Chapter 4 - The Phases of Development
  • Chapter 5 - Martin Winterkorn, CEO of Volkswagen
  • Chapter 6 - Recep Tayyip Erdogan, President of Turkey
  • Chapter 7 - Elizabeth Holmes, CEO of Theranos
  • Chapter 8 - Xi Jinping, President of China
  • Chapter 9 - Phase I—Onward and Upward: Leaders Paint a Picture of a Future Boundlessly Better than the Past
  • Chapter 10 - Phase II—Followers Join In: Leaders Energize and Secure Their Base of Support
  • Chapter 11 - Phase III—Leaders Start In: Leaders and Their Followers Embark On or Continue a Course That in Some Way Is Bad
  • Chapter 12 - Phase IV—Bad to Worse: Leaders and Their Followers Extend and Expand Their Commitment to Being Bad
  • Epilogue: The Future


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