Background Note | HBS Case Collection | March 2004 (Revised March 2005)

Note on Why Leaders Lose Their Way

by William W. George


In the seemingly never-ending revelations of corporate scandals that have been exposed since the fall of Enron, the media, politicians, and the general public have taken to characterizing such leaders as "bad people," even to the point of considering them evil. The rest of our leaders have become suspect, as corporate executives are tied for dead last with used car salesmen in terms of public trust. These overly simplistic notions of "good leaders" and "bad leaders" only serve to cloud our understanding of the nature of leadership in the business world and how good leaders can lose their way. Teaching Purpose: To outline how and why leaders lose their way.

Keywords: Leadership; Problems and Challenges; Behavior;


George, William W. "Note on Why Leaders Lose Their Way." Harvard Business School Background Note 404-126, March 2004. (Revised March 2005.)