Leaders make mistakes: A multilevel consideration of why

Published on Apr 1, 2011in Leadership Quarterly
· DOI :10.1016/j.leaqua.2011.02.001
Samuel T. Hunter26
Estimated H-index: 26
(PSU: Pennsylvania State University),
Brian W. Tate4
Estimated H-index: 4
(PSU: Pennsylvania State University)
+ 1 AuthorsKatrina E. Bedell-Avers11
Estimated H-index: 11
(OU: University of Oklahoma)
Abstract Errors make up a substantial portion of the fabric of leadership, yet we know very little about how and why they occur. Using Fleishman et al.'s (1991) behavioral taxonomy as a foundation, we offer a multilevel theoretical framework for understanding the causes of leader error — discussing leader, group and organization level influences. The results of the effort reveal several key themes, including the negative impact of timeframe, complex influence of expertise, causes of rigidity in problem solving, and the key role of the subordinate in minimizing the negative impacts of error. A closer consideration of these themes reveals several practical and theoretical implications for reducing the frequency and severity of leader errors. We conclude with a discussion of directions for future research.
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