Leadership blips, bloopers & foul-ups

Leadership researcher Robert Hogan says two-thirds of the people in leadership positions in the Western world will fail. “They will then be fired, demoted or kicked upstairs,” says Hogan.

Whether that’s true or not, here are a few of the dumber mistakes leaders have made and how you can avoid them:
  • Clone what’s worked in the past. When the world changes, you won’t be able to deal with the new environment.
  • Refuse to listen. With the advent of mountain bikes, Schwinn Bicycle Co. needed to replace its business model. During a critical discussion of strategy, former CEO Ed Schwinn actually said, “This conversation is not going the way I wanted it to be going.” A week later, he fired the discussion leader.
  • Hide things. American Airlines’ Donald Carty extracted concessions from his unions while purposely not telling them that he was paying fat retention bonuses and pension protection to top executives. When it came out (and it always does), he had to resign.
  • Fail to act. Some businesses simply move faster than others. If you’re in one of them, you can’t afford caution.
  • Blame others. In the wake of a disaster, one former executive who now works as a coach asked a manager what went wrong. The manager gave seven reasons; each one blamed somebody else.
— Adapted from “Understanding Failure,” A.J. Vogl, Across the Board.