Home >

Leaders Who Have Other Agendas

New leaders can bring other agendas to their position. Old leaders can develop new agendas while in their position. Other agendas are not in themselves bad; they may even be helpful. If other agendas motivate leaders to excel in their current work thus positioning them to achieve future goals, these other agendas indirectly serve the organization. If leaders are active in other organizations that bind them to the community, the organization may again benefit.

Sometimes other agendas don’t help the organization, but they don’t particularly hurt it either. Life is full of things to do and people are fascinating mosaics of interests and motivations. A leader excessively involved with other agendas, however, can serve an organization badly. For example:

Competing agendas can distract a leader from the organization’s needs, such as when a CEO devotes excessive time to serving on other boards and making outside speeches.

A leader can misuse the organization’s resources for personal projects with which he is absorbed, such as writing a book or running for political office.

A leader’s preoccupation with an agenda, such as expanding his empire through acquisitions, can squander the resources an organization has, by diverting energy from its primary purpose.

If a leader’s other agenda is hidden, such as a government official ingratiating himself with a company he would like to work for after retirement, the common purpose can be compromised.

Courageous followers who see leaders pursuing other agendas at the expense of the common purpose will challenge them as soon as their behavior becomes suspect. It may be that the leader is more motivated by the other agenda and should make preparations for a transfer of leadership so he can cleanly pursue the new purpose. Or it may be that the courageous challenge refocuses the leader on giving the common purpose the energy it requires.