Successful leaders always have people around them who are disagreeable enough to call them out on their behaviours, choices, and decisions. When they don't, we see unethical or illegal behaviours, poor decisions and leadership.
When leaders surround themselves with fans (hiring friends and family) or people who are scared to lose their jobs so nobody would question them, it is only a matter of time before the cookie crumbles.
We all need people who ground us, who are bluntly honest with us because that keeps us on the right path. We continuously get out of line as we push boundaries. It is normal, but we constantly need people's responses so we don't get too insane. This is what families, marriages, and friendships are for. They tell us straight up when we miss the mark. They are not nice and they don't have to be. My friends and family are harsh. My besties and I are in constant debates about topics and I don't want them to agree with me. That is not useful for me to think. This is when we grow.
These pushbacks may be harsh and often painful, but they are designed to socialise and teach us. Therefore, not having such people around us can be catastrophic.
We need the same at work whether we are in an entry-level job or the CEO. Fortunately, organisations are designed to provide us with feedback, but this tends to break further up in the hierarchy at the leaders' level.
Leaders often surround themselves with "YES" people, intentionally or unintentionally, ripping themselves off feedback that would help them avoid mistakes. They are often blind to what is happening within organisations because people fear telling the truth.
Because of the absence of being challenged, they get tangled up in serious misconducts ranging from bullying and stealing to illegal activities or sexual abuse. We have seen it all.
Every poor decision, bad headline, and illegal activity is caused by the leaders' inability to surround themselves with at least one person who is there to point out their inadequacy in certain situations.
Once, I ran a personality assessment for one of my leadership teams, where I highlighted that the team is high on agreeableness which increases the risk of poor choices made by the leader as nobody would raise the red flag. Guess what happened a few months later......... I wasn't even surprised.
We must keep people around us who don't put up with our BS. Only narcissists want people around them who do what they say. It is often an abusive relationship where the narcissists don't want anybody to challenge them, and the servants do as they are told and expected.
This is why they say leadership is lonely because leaders have nobody monitoring them. But it doesn't have to be. It is up to the leaders to select at least one person with high integrity and ethics who will tell them, "You made a fool out of yourself during that meeting" or "Hiring your ex-girlfriend may not be the best thing to do."
Do you know when leaders are at their worst? When they have nobody at work, keeping them in check, and they are also single. This combination can be deadly! People who are alone, they drift, often in the direction of their biggest weakness, and there is nobody to stop them.
This is when mentors and us coaches come into the picture. Well, if the leader has enough humility to ask for help.