September 13, 1991
Bill Flechette. Top-level executive. Smart and aggressive, he’s a brilliant planner and strategist who can bring together the perfect team to get the job done. But looking good is his top priority, and he routinely alienates these top-flight teams by taking all the credit in passing on the blame.
Gifted manager or shooting star?
Beyond Ambition reveals why the drive to excel, though it can bring success in the short term, is actually derailing the careers of too many talented managers. Arguing that personal balance is the road to managerial excellence, the authors show how managers on the corporate fast-track can shift into an “inner fifth gear” and perform at peak effectiveness without burning themselves out or alienating their colleagues, employees, and families – people whose loyalty and support are essential to their success.
The authors demonstrate how the very character traits that enable managers to rise to the top of their field – a single-minded focus on personal achievement, seemingly unlimited energy, and the willingness to take charge – can ultimately prevent them from marshaling the support, creativity, and team effort needed to make their organization effective over the long haul. And they show how organizations – by committing to develop managers’ character and not just their skills – can help executives break through their personal barriers to managerial excellence.
Based on an intensive six-year study of forty senior executives whose drive to excel was actually damaging their performance, Beyond Ambition reveals how managers can recognize and change personality traits that are undermining their effectiveness, such as perfectionism or the need to overcontrol. The book presents touching, in-depth case studies of executives who have made profound personal changes, illustrated by interviews with their coworkers, spouses, and children.
Robert E. Kaplan is a senior fellow at the Center for Creative Leadership in Greensboro, North Carolina. Wilfred H. Drath is a publications director and a research associate at the Center for Creative Leadership. Joan R. Kofo-Dimos is an independent consultant, researcher, and writer.