Response to Great Intimidators

I was happy to see a letter to the editor in this month’s Harvard Business Review that challenged the “Great Intimidator” article that I wrote about last month. Walter Carleton gave voice to my frustration with the article, pointing out that citing Richard Nixon, Robert McNamara and Carly Fiorina as “model” leaders is certainly questionable. He also made the same point I did by flat-out challenging the notion that the truth is not that important:

Astonishingly, even lying has an honored place because the truth doesn’t matter all that much when it comes to political intelligence.

I tend to agree with Carleton’s bottom line in this case: we tolerate the intimidator part of leaders when they have other things to offer (technical brilliance, great organizational skills, etc.), but there is not a lot of real value in the intimidation.

Sometimes in HBR the author responds to letters like this, but that didn’t happen this time. It’s to bad, because I am interested in Kramer’s response.