Boringness | A Characteristic of Great Leaders

May 22, 2012

Great leaders tend to be boring.  Does that statement somehow go against your preconceived notion about leaders?

In his book Good to Great, Jim Collins talks about how all of the leaders of the great companies in his study had a “charisma bypass.”  In this same vein, Joel Stein writes on the Harvard Business Review website about how he spent hours with leaders of all types and found that they were not these charismatic hero types, but were in fact a little boring. Following is one excerpt:

“. . . I learned that my vision of what makes a good leader was all wrong. I spent hours working alongside fire chiefs, army captains, Boy Scout troop leaders, and others who guide teams. To my surprise, the best of them tended to be quiet listeners who let other people make most of the decisions. They weren’t particularly charismatic. Or funny. They weren’t the toughest guys in the pack. They didn’t have a Clintonian need to be liked, or a Patton-like intensity. They were, on the whole, a little boring.”

The point I would like to make or question I want to ask you is – Are you overlooking some of your potentially best leaders because they don’t fit your (or our culture’s) preconceived notion of what a leader “looks like”?  Are you automatically overlooking the “boring” people?  Maybe some of your best potential leaders are quietly working away right under your nose.

Have a blessed day!
BG