Five reasons why leaders fail

Do any of the following five types of failure sound familiar? These are discussed in some details on the LBS blog and, while not comprehensive, there’s definitely food for thought.

The reasons explored are:

1. The pathological leader 

There is a disturbing tendency for us to elevate narcissists, bullies and psychopaths to lead us. Perhaps they make us feel safe for a while, but ultimately people like Robert Maxwell, Al “Chainsaw” Dunlap and political despots through history leave us a tattered legacy.

2. The inflexible leader

The world does not stand still, and neither can leaders. Business history is littered with the wreckage of firms whose leaders failed to adapt their style and strategy to changing times, such as Kodak or Lehman Brothers.

3. The over-reaching leader

There have been leaders who have tried to bend the world to their will – stretching their vision to breaking point. There have been plenty of these in political history, from Napoleon to Margaret Thatcher.

4. The lopsided leader

It is OK for leaders to have an unbalanced portfolio of skills, but only if they have re-balancing co-leaders and teams. Those who don’t fail to meet critical challenges of the role, such as Fred Goodwin of RBS, who was all operations and no strategy.

5. The unlucky leader

Louis Pasteur said: “Chance favours the prepared mind”, and leaders have to be able to ride their luck. The financial crisis destroyed many firms, but good leaders hedge against extreme circumstances. Yet even good men and women can go to the wall if the sky falls in on their business.

To read the whole article see the London Business School website.

Published: June 9, 2016. Categories: News.

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