Why is the ivory tower syndrome so dangerous to leadership effectiveness?

Most people know the term “ivory tower“. It’s come to mean being out of touch with the “real” world or the rest of the world. It’s a major problem with respect to leaders.

With respect to leadership, it means the same thing. Due to the pressures of leadership, and the time demands, there is a tendency for leaders to spend most of their time with other leaders in the organization, or other managers, focusing on the “big” issues, or the strategic issues. Those thing are important, of course.

However, what happens is that over time, the leader can become out of touch with the experiences and problems of those that actually get the work done — often the people at the bottom of the organizational hierarchy who make and design products and services, or who interact directly with the people who pay the bills — the customers.

When leaders get out of touch or get stuck in the isolated ivory tower syndrome, their decision making loses focus and tends to cater to the issues and problems associated with other leaders and managers. Decisions get made that interfere with customer service or production. Strategic decisions don’t take into account the everyday implications for customers and employees.

The ivory tower syndrome process is a natural and common process that can affect most busy leaders, unless the leader pays conscious attention, and allocates time, to staying in touch with those towards the bottom of the organization. One of the critical steps is to take steps to ensure that the leader has access to information FROM employees

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