Betrayal - James Krantz

Betrayal - James Krantz

06th May 2015

Several people in the FETL community have asked about my paper on betrayal which was mentioned during my lecture.

The basic idea is that leadership sometimes requires betrayal, but a particular kind of betrayal. Not betrayal in the ordinary sense which involves some sort of exploitation or corruption. But something I call virtuous betrayal, which means that in order to remain true to the mission sometimes leaders have to violate the tacit agreements between people or bonds of loyalty.

This, I believe, is a very painful aspect of leadership and, when faced with this challenge, leaders often act in ways that only exacerbate a difficult situation. This is a difficult aspect of leadership I know, and one we increasingly face. It arises because leaders sit on the boundary between the inside and outside of organisations. On the inside, they work within complicated arrangements, implicit contracts and loyalties. Doing it well, and having fidelity to a higher purpose, is the saddest of all leadership capabilities–to avoid going crazy yourself or driving other people around you crazy.

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