The best corporate leaders today are able to move mountains because of their character and honesty; the worst are driven primarily by the need to maintain their own egos.
Bill George, a fellow at Harvard Business School, lists the five archetypal leaders who best exhibit these destructive characteristics in his book True North: Leading Authentically in Today’s Workplace, Emerging Leader Edition.
Avoiding promoting impostors, rationalizers, glory seekers, loners, or shooting stars is the key to a successful company with a focused, productive team.
And according to Mark Zuckerberg, CEO of Meta, his leadership mixes characteristics from no fewer than three.
Facebook’s founder is in charge of the social media firm during a turbulent time that includes a decline in ad revenue, the embrace of an incipient metaverse filled with ridiculous photos, and the resignation of seasoned operations director Sheryl Sandberg.
He’s probably a factor in why so many people are avoiding the business. George said on CNBC’s Make It, “He’s truly lost his way.
Making excuses for mistakes
George, a former CEO at Honeywell who is now a management specialist, has criticized boards that favor charisma over character and, as a result, select executives who prioritize style over substance.
Even more troublingly, Zuckerberg also brought up TikTok’s rising popularity, as if social media were exempt from the repercussions of competition, to which every company must adapt.
Resistant to advice
Zuckerberg is also a “loner” who has learned to reject outside counsel, constructive criticism, or input from dependable subordinates who can point out weaknesses and offer fixes to strengthen a business.
Roger McNamee, co-founder of Elevation Partners and an early investor in Facebook, tried to persuade Zuckerberg of the importance of preventing data collection and targeted exploitation on the well-known site.
The warning was ignored, but eventually there was a backlash and full Congressional investigations on Cambridge Analytica’s involvement in both the 2016 U.S. presidential election and the Brexit referendum.
A Glory Seeker
Last but not least, Zuckerberg is an egotistical businessman who puts growth and profits ahead of his clients.
Instagram was accused of being the cause of a mental health crisis among teenage females in September, according to a Wall Street Journal report, but the firm rejected the claims.
Despite some businesses adopting a more ethical stance, revenue ended up being more significant than the moral consequences of optimizing customer engagement.
Facebook won’t succeed as long as he’s there, George said.
There is at least some positive news.
At least Zuckerberg wasn’t specifically labeled in the book as an imposter lacking in self-awareness like WeWork’s Adam Neumann or a rising star doomed to failure like Travis Kalanick of Uber.