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In Praise of Damaged Leaders

Dr. Martin Davidson is Associate Professor of Leadership and Organizational Behavior at the University of Virginia’s Darden School of Business where he also serves as Associate Dean and Chief Diversity Officer. He blogs at Leveraging Difference.

Barack Obama still sneaks cigarettes. Gordon Brown has a mean temper. Surgeon General Regina Benjamin struggles with her weight. At what point do a leader’s personal vices begin to undermine effectiveness? Is it better to hide them or acknowledge them?

The greatest misstep I see contemporary leaders make is trying to look flawless. There is a model of leadership out there that says that in order to be an effective leader, a person must appear to be more knowledgeable, more competent, more ethical, more poised, and more inspiring than the people she or he leads.

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