In his book “Tipping Sacred Cows: Kick the Bad Work Habits that Masquerade as Virtues”, Jake Breeden shows their “dark side”:
Balance: Disguising indecision as a bland compromise that attempts to achieve many things but ends up accomplishing nothing
Collaboration: Creating a culture of learned helplessness with little individual empowerment and accountability
Creativity: Wasting time and money coming up with new ideas because it feels good, not because it's needed
Excellence: Spending too much energy producing perfect work instead of developing the quick-and-dirty solution needed now
Fairness: Keeping score and evening the score to make sure no one gets more than their "fair share"
Passion: Racing down a path seeking success only to find burn-out and misbehavior instead
Preparation: Planning to do work instead of productively working out just-in-time solutions with just the right people
Breeden suggest that Instead of zealous pursuiing of seemingly virtuous traits, as a leader you must appreciate the unintended consequences of their good intentions.
Preparation, while mostly a virtue, “can backfire by causing you to fall in love with your work to the point that you defend what you should change,” writes Breeden. “Sometimes preparation is an excuse not to take action.” page 21
Let “underperforming” colleagues sink or swim. “Allowing someone to fail helps them get better,” writes Breeden. “Stepping in for the good of the team blocks growth and reinforces bad behavior.” page 67
“Comparing your progress with your colleagues’ isn’t wise. “If you feel treated unfairly at work, you may be tempted to rationalize unethical decisions,” writes Breeden. “Fairness” can become “an excuse to cheat.” page 137
Many executives embrace the role of “cheerleader in chief.” Passion can be “exhausting.” though, ending in “burn-out.” “Sometimes leaders are better leading silently from the back of the room.” page 152
Conclusion? Identify your sacred cows” and ... train them!
If you’d like to buy a copy of this book
Jack Breeden-Tipping Sacred Cows (Wiley), Bloomberg Businessweek 3/11/13