- one who has access to multiple resources, yet fails to produce
- one who is respected by others, yet fails himself to respect those around him
- one who, when given the opportunity, fails to act
- one who believes (and maybe even writes) their own press
- one who, being afraid to fail, imagines a greater threat than is real
- one who always believes they know better than others
- one who cannot be led or managed themselves
As I review the above factors, I am reminded of the danger of hubris that can be found in leaders across organizations and institutions. This is not about incompetence...McClellan was, after all, a very competent individual. He was smart, he was strategic, he was well-liked, and he could inspire others when needed. What he lacked was the humility to listen, to doubt himself, and the courage to make a difficult decision in the face of unknown odds. Truth be told, I would rather be led by someone with not enough competence than by someone with too much hubris. Incompetence harms...hubris destroys.
As leaders look across their organizations, they should be identifying those who exhibit any or all of the McClellan factors. The fact is that most of the time, leaders are often the last ones to know who these individuals might be. Keeping one's eyes open, asking difficult questions, focusing on execution of goals, and regular reviews can help to discover those who are exhibiting the McClellan factors.
And one final thought...where and when might you, as a leader, be acting in a manner that reflects the McClellan factor? And how will you know when and if this is occurring? Taking a regular inventory of oneself, finding someone to serve as a personal coach, and instituting a regular personal review process from the Board or other reporting entity can help keep the leader in check so that, at the end of the day, the leader does not become their own McClellan.