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Levi-Strauss & hard decisions

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in Best-Practices Leadership,Leaders & Managers,Management Training

The day Robert Hass took over as CEO of Levi Strauss & Co. in 1989, he inherited his company’s time-honored tradition of treating all employees fairly, ethically, compassionately and appreciatively … no matter what.

The problem: By 1997, Levi-Strauss had followed that lofty mission to a fault, refusing to make essential staff reductions. Yielding, finally, to the forces of international trade and competition, Haas had to close 29 factories and slash 16,000 jobs.

Early action might not have prevented all the turmoil, but it might have kept Levi-Strauss from becoming what Fortune called a “failed utopian management experience” that came apart at the seams.

The moral: The earlier you face a crisis and make difficult corrections, the better.

— Adapted from Bad Leadership: What it means, how it happens, why it matters, Barbara Kellerman, Harvard Business School Press.

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