Why some leaders slip into counterproductive habits—and what they can do to get back on track.

A leader at a paper sales company calls a team meeting to discuss an important issue. As the meeting begins, it is revealed that a member of the team made a critical billing error that would cost the company thousands of dollars.

The leader highlights that this is an important learning opportunity for everyone on the team— for how to avoid careless and costly mistakes. If the team wanted to know how not to get a gold star—the team leader said—they should talk to Phil. Phil would know just how to make such a foolish and avoidable mistake. Clearly, he'd done it once already.

But there's an alternative response. Phil gets a knock on his office door. His team leader asks to come in and sits down across from him. The team leader asks Phil if it would be alright if they looked through some papers from the last billing cycle. As they review, they come across an error—a simple clerical mistake that would, unfortunately, be quite costly for the team. The leader looks at Phil and acknowledges that a mistake like this is uncharacteristic. He asks Phil if everything is okay. Phil explains that he's been navigating a crisis at home, and that he's been admittedly distracted over the past few weeks. The leader thanks Phil for his candor, and they begin to talk through some strategies together.

We've all heard stories of tough bosses—maybe experienced a few ourselves. Some of us have even been the boss faced with the challenge of balancing being firm and being fair. One of the hallmarks of a great leader, though, is the ability to strike that balance. On the other hand, there are those leaders who've become famous for missing the mark.

Key Takeaways

About This Report

The dorsomedial prefrontal cortex (dmPFC) is involved in reality testing and error monitoring.

The dorsolateral prefrontal cortex (dlPFC) is highly active in top-down guidance of attention and thought.

The rostrolateral prefrontal cortex (rlPFC) and the ventromedial prefrontal cortex (vmPFC) are involved in some of the social components of executive functions, including inhibition of inappropriate actions and regulation of emotion.

About the Publisher

Published by Korn Ferry is a global organizational consulting firm. We work with our clients to design optimal organization structures, roles, and responsibilities. We help them hire the right people and advise them on how to reward and motivate their workforce while developing professionals as they navigate and advance their careers.

Publish Date

November 2021