Letter: Rankings Won’t Create Better Leaders



Building CEO-grade leaderboards, as suggested by Pilita Clark, while intuitively appealing, is a flawed proposition (“Lists of the top bosses are good, but what about the 50 worst bosses? ? ”, Work & Careers, June 21).

Ranking by leadership may seem like a desirable idea. Presumably, those at the bottom of the league would be motivated to change their attitudes or behaviors in order to move up the rankings. It would also provide useful information to future employees.

Unfortunately, such a classification is based on an important, but fallacious, assumption; that “CEO quality” can be objectively identified. In reality, the quality depends on the point of view adopted. That of the employees? Investors? Customers? Suppliers? Everyone will likely have a different (and contradictory) view of any CEO. For example, if I understand correctly, the current Commissioner of the Metropolitan Police is widely regarded as an exceptional leader by her colleagues, but the media view sometimes seems less favorable.

This is called the Rashomon effect, after the 1950 film, where different witnesses to a murder report conflicting evidence. The same was found by scholarly research in executive coaching, where the quality of coaching was assessed differently depending on whether one asked for his opinion of the client or of an “expert” observer. Which highlights a leadership problem more generally: there is no objective truth. We build our own realities, based on our own experiences, seen through our own biased lenses.

I would love to see better corporate leadership, but rankings are not part of the solution.

Paul berry
Human performance science
London SW15, United Kingdom


Leave A Reply

Your email address will not be published.