Thursday, February 14, 2013

CEO Disease

Daniel Goleman calls it the CEO disease. The problem, according to Goleman and his co-authors, is “an acute lack of feedback…Leaders have more trouble than anybody else when it comes to receiving candid feedback, particularly about how their doing as leaders…the paradox, of course, is that the higher a leader’s position in an organization, the more critically the leader needs that very feedback.”[i]
A study by the Consortium for Research on Emotional Intelligence in Organizations confirms this need for feedback among the higher ranks.  In their work examining more than a thousand employed individuals, the Consortium’s results showed that participants employed at the higher ranks (first, mid, and senior-level managers) had a significant pattern of rating themselves higher on their leadership performance than those around them rated them.[ii] In other words, these managers thought they were doing better as leaders (on EQ skills such as self-awareness, social-awareness, self-management, and social skills) than did the people they served, worked with, and reported to. What’s more, the higher a person’s rank, the greater this gap became. Also of note, the participants of the study came from all areas of the organization, including finance, human resources, research and development, sales, marketing, technical, executive/general management, and more. This gap in self versus others’ perception of one’s leadership skills was present throughout the organizations at the higher ranks. By soliciting feedback from the team, these leaders could close this gap, gaining access to essential information for refining their own performance and improving overall business outcomes.

[i] Goleman, Boyatzis, & McKee (2004). Primal Leadership: Learning to Lead with Emotional Intelligence. Harvard Business Review Press, p. 92.
[ii] Sala, Fabio. (2001). It’s Lonely at the Top: Executives’ Emotional Intelligence Self [Mis] Perceptions. Consortium for Research on Emotional Intelligence in Organizations,, Hay/McBer.

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