“Business Leadership”

The default pseudo-content for undirected MBA research


tl;dr The organisational niche of a CEO is probably to dominate employees into doing stuff; But we insist on imbuing them with prestige in the sense that we wish them to have some intrinsic skills or qualities of their own. When they come up short we call the mysterious quality which granted them dominance leadership. This is, to my mind, probably a status confusion.

Nonetheless, business leadership research is a thing. Is that a phenomenon of the rockpools at the border between the choppy oceans of academia and the land of commerce, where strange and transitory buzzword ecosystems autopoiesis, bloom and die?

I wanted to rant more about this, but before I got around to formulating my thoughts, Venkatesh Rao refined, improved and stated for me some thoughts on this topic that will do instead.

Public displays of CEO thinking are impressive primarily for their sheer banality, far above and beyond the needs of non-offensiveness, political correctness and perception management. You can tell it’s coming from deep down. It’s not an act. I’ve seen it on display in candid, private settings as well, where there’s no particular reason to keep things simple. CEO world views really are that simple. That does not mean they are simplistic or entirely a consequence of survivorship bias and attribution errors. […]

The CEO algorithm is fairly simple in the intelligence it demands. […] There is a reason why Alan Turing framed his eponymous famous test in terms of a computer mimicking a “mediocre intelligence, like the President of AT&T.” More intelligence than is necessary for running the straight-line trim trajectory algorithm (which many CEOs, unfortunately, do have) is a liability that turns the leadership environment into a distraction-rich one that derails sparkling genius minds more readily than it does merely mediocre ones.

He does bang on at length about it, in a possibly ill-advised parody of the form of leadership claptrap he is critiquing.