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Archive: Failures

It's not smart to act as though you're indispensable

The longstanding culture can't be altered overnight, even if many new faces are added. The same old boss will be running the show...

By Yash Gupta | February 1, 2011; 02:11 PM ET | Comments (1)

The future for Egypt could look grim

The danger for Egypt, the Middle East and U.S. interests is that the explosive demand for human rights will result in a religious dictatorship even more repressive than...

By Michael Maccoby | February 1, 2011; 02:06 PM ET | Comments (3)

Four obstacles for Mubarak

If there is a system where people have been repressed, unemployment is high and emotions have been smoldering, then the pressure builds; and when the cork is pulled out, it is very hard to put it back in...

By Deborah Ancona | February 1, 2011; 10:39 AM ET | Comments (1)

Mubarak's chance for better legacy

As Einstein said, "No problem can be solved from the same consciousness that created it," and such is the case with Mubarak...

By Alaina Love | February 1, 2011; 10:32 AM ET | Comments (4)

Leadership: Part action, part perception

Although President Mubarak may still hold the 'formal' authority of his role, it's informal authority that is now at stake...

By Amy Fraher | February 1, 2011; 10:27 AM ET | Comments (2)

Egypt needs a new leader

No way can a leader lousy for 30 years become someone poised for greatness in the future...

By Ken Adelman | February 1, 2011; 10:21 AM ET | Comments (4)

Strong leaders know when it's time to change

If a leader is the problem, he must step aside. This is hard for an autocrat to do because his view of self is linked to the destiny of...

By John Baldoni | February 1, 2011; 10:12 AM ET | Comments (9)

Power to the people

Perhaps Kanye West can claim to be the voice of this generation. It seems the often-maligned rapper was peering into the future when he wrote, in his most recent album, that "no one man should have all that power"--a mantra taken up, at least in spirit, by the millions of Egyptians protesting...

By Coro Fellows | February 1, 2011; 07:46 AM ET | Comments (3)

What's your piece of the mess?

Hyperbolic politicians and the media and gun laws may or may not have contributed, Best as I can tell, we are already into heavy demonizing of "the other" in the aftermath of the tragedy...

By Marty Linsky | January 11, 2011; 07:29 PM ET | Comments (1)

Making the case for civility

The Tucson tragedy is at least a momentary reset in the super-heated discussion in Washington. The truth is that no one knows what the long-run impact is going to be, and everyone is scrambling to find the right note...

By Donald Kettl | January 11, 2011; 07:22 PM ET | Comments (3)

Our role in this tragedy

Our pattern seems to be a brief awakening during a crisis, at which time we are startled and sickened by the horror of what happened, but then we soon return to a semi-conscious state that serves to distance us from...

By Katherine Tyler Scott | January 11, 2011; 07:10 PM ET | Comments (3)

May this be a wake-up call

Leaders set a tone. When leaders in public life speak about their opponents in hateful, over-the-top vitriol, it makes people more fearful of those they disagree with and what they are doing to our country. When "lock and load" and "second amendment remedies" are part of the discourse, it sets a tone that...

By Paul Schmitz | January 11, 2011; 06:59 PM ET | Comments (9)

We need more Joseph Welch moments

Some of the louder voices in our society these days seem to believe that extremely bitter criticism of the government equates with the deepest patriotism. That's not necessarily the case...

By Yash Gupta | January 11, 2011; 11:47 AM ET | Comments (2)

It will take responsible leaders

Provocative radio and TV commentators won't disappear as long as they draw a large audience. But unless responsible leaders reject followers in their own parties who preach lessons of hate, unstable listeners will continue to believe that destructiveness...

By Michael Maccoby | January 11, 2011; 11:42 AM ET | Comments (1)

Sandbox rules for politicians

Thus far, this system of communication has worked on some level because we're tuning in; we're supporting networks, radio stations and publications that broadcast this rubbish; and on some level, the American public is buying in...

By Alaina Love | January 11, 2011; 10:47 AM ET | Comments (4)

It's hard to be hopeful

I am still waiting for a talk show host or politician of any political persuasion to say, "I think my rhetoric has been excessive and...

By Howard Gardner | January 11, 2011; 10:42 AM ET | Comments (3)

The dramatic decline in civility

The time has come for all elected officials and candidates for public office to pledge to refrain from personal attacks and gross distortions of facts for partisan political...

By David Walker | January 11, 2011; 10:14 AM ET | Comments (0)

When what you do outweighs who you are

A cloud of allegations hovers over this year's Heisman recipient, and a shadow has been cast on his character and on the integrity of those who chose him. In his case, fact and fiction are somewhat muddled; but what is clear is...

By Katherine Tyler Scott | December 16, 2010; 09:26 AM ET | Comments (2)

Cam being Cam

Once in an interview in response to the question '"How do you manage all those newly rich, testosterone-rich, self-absorbed men on a professional football team?" Bill Parcells answered exactly the opposite...

By Marty Linsky | December 15, 2010; 01:47 PM ET | Comments (1)

Offer redemption, then show the door

Spending time with my five grand kids always reminds me that children are great mimics. Spending a few minutes with the daily newspaper reminds me that adults are too--and often with far less charming results...

By John R. Ryan | December 15, 2010; 01:39 PM ET | Comments (1)

One strike and you're out

No exceptions, no matter how high your station, no matter how important you are to the organization. When you violate the fundamental rules of the institutional culture...

By Benjamin W. Heineman, Jr. | December 14, 2010; 12:46 PM ET | Comments (1)

The meaning of an asterisk

Add Cam Newton's reception of the Heisman Trophy to the long list of examples of athletic "excellence" coming before sports "integrity." Many names come to mind, but the quintessential example...

By Coro Fellows | December 13, 2010; 11:28 PM ET | Comments (0)

The road to ruin

Yes, Cam Newton is an incredible football player (I love watching him play), but we must care about the total person we hold up for emulation in our society. This is about repairing, not maintaining, the moral fiber of...

By Don Vandergriff | December 13, 2010; 03:35 PM ET | Comments (0)

Don't care about values? At least stop pretending

it all depends on how important a culture of integrity is. If it is essential (as it is for many top organizations), then you must reward, penalize, hire and fire to that value. But if you aren't going to do that, at least have the courtesy and honesty to delete that...

By Carol Kinsey Goman | December 13, 2010; 02:47 PM ET | Comments (3)

A flawed process

It doesn't matter if you have served in the military, are young or old, are a former law enforcement officer, or have a top-level security clearance. When standing in the security line, everyone is treated the same--like a potential terrorist--and that, inherently, is the problem...

By Robert Goodwin | November 24, 2010; 01:50 PM ET | Comments (7)

Adding insult to injury

This might be the right time for the TSA to pause and regroup to develop a better implementation plan for improved security considering the passenger travel experience, and despite the cost already invested. It's appropriate to admit that they haven't quite gotten this right...

By Alaina Love | November 24, 2010; 12:59 PM ET | Comments (3)

Security isn't just a technical problem

The TSA put forth what was presumably the technically best set of procedures, one that would reduce the likelihood of a terrorist getting on an airplane to close to zero. That's their job. But in the broader picture, TSA's strategy, whatever it is, will not work unless...

By Marty Linsky | November 23, 2010; 09:18 AM ET | Comments (4)

TSA's right and responsibility

I went through security at the Kansas City airport the first day of the new policy and thought I might get a marriage proposal from the fellow from TSA who administered my search. Had I known that a change had been made, his examination would have been less alarming...

By Paul R. Portney | November 23, 2010; 07:38 AM ET | Comments (14)

Give us liberty (and, while you're at it, save us from death)!

the TSA should launch a public education campaign. Such an effort should be devoid of slick propaganda and clever slogans. Rather, I want statistics as well as evidence of nuanced thinking on the part of the decision-makers.

By Coro Fellows | November 23, 2010; 02:13 AM ET | Comments (10)

TSA's tone-deaf strategy

TSA and Homeland Security appear tone-deaf and unwilling to consider the logical next steps (proctological exam anyone?) of a security strategy that focuses on everyone and on intervention at the last possible moment...

By Jeffrey Pfeffer | November 22, 2010; 08:05 PM ET | Comments (3)

Close encounters of the unpleasant kind

TSA is in a tough spot. Every encounter with the screening process is destined to be unpleasant: inconvenient waits, intrusions into personal privacy, the risks of rude workers--all the fun of dealing with the IRS, with the awful specter of September 11 in the background as the inescapable reason for the encounter to begin with...

By Donald Kettl | November 22, 2010; 07:25 PM ET | Comments (3)

TSA--and politicians--need to make more unpopular decisions

It is the responsibility of the TSA to protect us, period. TSA leaders must be prepared to make unpopular decisions regarding our safety. Our sensitivities and complaints matter, but in this case leadership means doing something unpopular to keep us safe and fulfilling the responsibilities associated with TSA's mission...

By Lt. Col. Todd Henshaw (Ret.) | November 22, 2010; 07:15 PM ET | Comments (10)

Let's end terrorism hysteria

Airport security should have been handled by contractors. If they did something really stupid--like groin-groping--they could be fired. Government folks can't. Plus, then government would be a step removed from glaring stupidity...

By Ken Adelman | November 22, 2010; 03:40 PM ET | Comments (11)

A problem of political correctness

The mistake is not so much in the technology, which is seemingly effective, as it is in the rigid political correctness that all travelers be treated as equally threatening...

By Slade Gorton | November 22, 2010; 02:14 PM ET | Comments (2)

Avoid backlash in the first place

Remember, no one likes change done to them; while most people willingly support change that they are involved in creating...

By Carol Kinsey Goman | November 22, 2010; 02:10 PM ET | Comments (2)

Worse than mere hubris

If one merely thinks a proposal is "a good idea" and could be helpful, it is not leadership but hubris to try to impose it against the public will. In the private sector, that bar of "necessity" is very unlikely ever to be reached...

By Mickey Edwards | November 22, 2010; 11:33 AM ET | Comments (5)

When culture eats strategy

There's a tendency in struggling organizations to focus on fixing systems and processes, as if structural repairs are all that stands between current problems and success. Certainly, GM did plenty of tinkering over the years, but it wasn't enough. That's because often it's the organizational culture--the day-to-day behaviors and beliefs and attitudes of employees at all levels--that needs changing...

By John R. Ryan | November 17, 2010; 02:35 PM ET | Comments (1)

How to save a company from demise

If culture is, as Terry Deal states, "the way we do things around here;" then corporate leadership must question the underlying assumptions that drive the behaviors of those within the company. Many assumptions are unconscious and have a dramatic effect on operations; surfacing them is critical to a company's ability to change. An integrated approach to leadership means...

By Katherine Tyler Scott | November 17, 2010; 10:55 AM ET | Comments (1)

The danger of complacency

In the army, leadership is continuously cycled. Lieutenants tend to only be a platoon leader for 15 months and then become an executive officer or take another staff position. Captains command companies for no longer than 24 months. Further, any military family can relate to the saying, "Home is where the Army sends you." This consistent leadership change keeps unit atmosphere continuously fresh, preventing complacency issues like GM had...

By West Point Cadets | November 16, 2010; 10:31 AM ET | Comments (3)

Combat insularity, confront reality

Failure to confront reality doomed General Motors, as it has many other companies. When you are really big, you tend to lose the hunger for excellence that many smaller companies have. In its early days, General Motors was a formidable competitor. It understood its customers and...

By John Baldoni | November 16, 2010; 10:18 AM ET | Comments (1)

Mapping GM's decline

It was a failure of leadership as astounding and momentous as the company's early achievement. Time will tell if the newly profitable automaker has truly overcome the last three decades of its own history and created an organization as committed to brave, effective and conscientious stewardship as the one that grabbed the industry gauntlet...

By Nancy Koehn | November 16, 2010; 10:08 AM ET | Comments (2)

Prior success is a powerful narcotic

Sometimes it takes a clear threat to organizational survival to prompt a new way of doing business that is responsive to changes outside of the company. As we have seen with General Motors before the bankruptcy, sometimes even that is not enough...

By George Reed | November 16, 2010; 10:02 AM ET | Comments (1)

The 'mechanics' of leadership

Remember when Rick Wagoner flew by private jet to DC to ask for a bailout? GM's executives ignored the seemingly obvious cost-cutting measure of reducing executive pay--something Toyota enacted without government instruction. A sense of "just" compensation--legitimate or not--prevents both union leaders and executives from making the obvious decision to cut costs...

By Coro Fellows | November 16, 2010; 12:34 AM ET | Comments (1)

GM's 'arrogance' virus

They arrogantly believed that foreign manufacturers were likely to produce lesser products that the American public wouldn't purchase. That is until Toyota came along and ate GM's lunch, Honda their breakfast and European manufacturers their dinner. By the way, GM would be wise to watch out for both Subaru and Hyundai, who are as we speak nibbling on pre-dinner hors d'oeuvres...

By Alaina Love | November 15, 2010; 05:37 PM ET | Comments (3)

Too big to U-turn

A company is asking for trouble when it becomes so big, when its profits are so great, that it believes it can do no wrong. GM's woes are the woes of a company that stopped scanning the landscape to see how the industry could be changing, a company that stuck to the same old formula for success and neglected true innovation, a company that forgot that what worked yesterday won't necessarily work today...

By Yash Gupta | November 15, 2010; 03:57 PM ET | Comments (0)

Reviving a boiled frog

It is so much easier for leaders to rally the troops in response to crisis, because the rationale for change--the "burning bridge"--is evident. But today our organizations are dealing with forces that are so dynamic and fast moving that to wait until there is proof of crisis is to respond far too late. The way that the accelerated pace of change drastically shortens response time was once explained to me in the following manner...

By Carol Kinsey Goman | November 15, 2010; 01:11 PM ET | Comments (0)

Know when to let your members off the hook

She has become the issue, rather than keeping front and center the issues she says she cares about--such as restoring the Democratic majority and keeping the White House in 2012. Her seeking re-election to the post is another example of her putting herself above her party and, once again, doing what no legislative party leader should ever do: forcing her members to make a bad vote that is likely to haunt them two years from now. It is as if she has learned nothing at all from...

By Marty Linsky | November 11, 2010; 05:26 PM ET | Comments (4)

Dems need new blood

If the Democrats' congressional leadership is unchanged after the party has taken such a hit, it might well create the additional problem of discouraging frank and open conversation about the necessary changes that the Democrats must consider. They just can't stick to the same old recipe...

By Yash Gupta | November 9, 2010; 02:58 PM ET | Comments (3)

'A wish for leaders'

There are some key questions that should be considered by both, even though Senator Reid has retained his formal position and Speaker Pelosi's fate is now dependent on the votes of her peers. In the final analysis, both will have to be authorized by those they want to influence. Can they present and represent their positions...

By Katherine Tyler Scott | November 9, 2010; 02:49 PM ET | Comments (0)

Acceptable vs unacceptable failures

If your personal values are aligned with those of your organization, you will know how much and what type of failure is too much. If you hold true to your values and have the courage to accept responsibility for your actions, you'll know when you need to step aside. At the end of the day, we must act...

By West Point Cadets | November 9, 2010; 02:41 PM ET | Comments (1)

How Pelosi is like KU's Coach Gill

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi faces a situation many authority figures face when they are linked to poor results. But Pelosi can take heart, she has a kindred spirit here in the Heartland. University of Kansas head football coach, Turner Gill, isn't a politician, but his job is political. As does Pelosi, Gill makes his living in a full-contact activity. Each also faces a growing chorus of detractors wanting...

By Ed O'Malley | November 9, 2010; 07:53 AM ET | Comments (1)

There is no dilemma

Thoughtful leaders should and do resign after losses far more modest than Nancy Pelosi's of last week. But Republicans, of course, are delighted at her candidacy, delighted at the prospect of her symbolizing Congressional Democrats for two more years. And House Democrats are in disarray, most of them privately wanting to see her back but afraid to say. At least for the moment...

By Slade Gorton | November 8, 2010; 05:56 PM ET | Comments (1)

'How sweet it is to wear the crown'

We Republicans are delighted that the Democratic faces in Congress remain those of Pelosi and Reid. Their decisions to remain leaders is bad news for Democrats. Yet it's surprisingly unsurprising. Even great historic leaders like Winston Churchill, Charles de Gaulle, Maggie Thatcher, and many others simply hung on too long. Why do they, even after achieving great feats? Shakespeare puts the reason simply: "How sweet it is to wear the crown"...

By Ken Adelman | November 8, 2010; 05:44 PM ET | Comments (2)

Some force-fed humility

Congresswoman Pelosi has lost credibility by insisting on remaining the head of the Democratic caucus in the wake of the recent elections. By 'fighting' to stay in the limelight, she leaves the impression that her agenda is more about her than about the things she claims to believe in. A more credible and humble approach would be...

By Bob Schoultz | November 8, 2010; 05:39 PM ET | Comments (7)

On being a 'net negative'

Pelosi has become an anchor around the neck of the once hopeful Democratic Party, and the election should have been signal enough for her to move on. Any attempt on her part to linger, to continue to represent Democratic ideals and intentions, will further set the party back. She's had her opportunity, it's time for new blood...

By Lt. Col. Todd Henshaw (Ret.) | November 8, 2010; 05:30 PM ET | Comments (4)

How to take feedback

It has been said that success has many fathers but failure is an orphan. A benefit of living in a democratic society is that the people have a voice. Whether or not this week's public feedback changes the makeup of our elected leadership, every leader should first take an honest look at their future plans and at the successes or failures of past performance. Behind every contentious issue is an opportunity to do...

By West Point Cadets | November 3, 2010; 01:51 PM ET | Comments (1)

Acknowledge the reality

I once asked an executive team what they were going to do with the devastating results of an employee survey. The managers' first reaction was, "Well, we certainly can't post those!" To which, I replied, "Why not?...

By Carol Kinsey Goman | November 1, 2010; 02:33 PM ET | Comments (2)

The wrong return to our roots

As E.B White put it years ago in a New Yorker essay, "There is a bright future for complexity, what with one thing always leading to another." Let's hope the Tea Party and, more importantly, both of our dominant political parties speak out with clear-eyed optimism for the common good--a common good that rests on the solid grounds of democracy; that rests on a government that would not, should not, be a distributive leadership" (whatever that is); and that rests on a nation with the resources and brains and resilience to solve complex problems that demand equitable, respectful solutions and results.

By Warren Bennis | September 22, 2010; 01:37 PM ET | Comments (0)

Even without legislation, Obama is leading on energy

Given fierce opposition, Obama's success in leading Congress to pass historic legislation in healthcare and financial regulation contradicts the rap that he has failed as a leader. And lets give him credit for wielding DOD, DOE and EPA to lay the foundations of a cleaner, more secure and sustainable energy future for this country.

By Michael Maccoby | August 5, 2010; 11:29 AM ET | Comments (4)

Time for old-fashioned horse trading on carbon

Maybe we should wait until the mid-term elections are over and the political stakes a bit lower, then get members of both parties off together away from the glare of the television lights. Let them do some old fashioned horse trading, or energy negotiating, with a commitment to move forward.

By Deborah Ancona | August 4, 2010; 07:38 AM ET | Comments (15)

Climate change legislation paralysis

A total lack of responsibility and courage have led our politicians into a state of paralysis.

By Pablo Eisenberg | August 3, 2010; 05:50 PM ET | Comments (4)

Stuck with carbon lock-in

The best thing political leaders can do is to facilitate the emergence of such movement through education and awareness campaigns and by trying to be more precise about the tangible costs of not doing anything.

By Angel Cabrera | August 3, 2010; 05:45 PM ET | Comments (2)

Do the right thing even if it hurts

The president could have said, "Look, folks, this is the consequence of the dangerous way we quench our thirst for energy. This has to change, and we need to start changing now." Political success is often a matter of timing, and here the president blew a chance to create significant progress on a major issue.

By Yash Gupta | August 3, 2010; 10:32 AM ET | Comments (2)

A hero of government service

The larger lesson is really about how remarkable so many of the people serving in the federal government are and how dedicated they are in their service.

By Peter Hart | July 23, 2010; 04:00 PM ET | Comments (31)

Leader as Chief Investigator

The leader must have a capacity to ferret out the fuller truth from differing and often conflicting perceptions and accounts.

By Katherine Tyler Scott | July 23, 2010; 06:57 AM ET | Comments (1)

Let the media go hungry

A politician like Vilsack should know that the ever-hungry media can wait to be fed.

By Kathryn Kolbert | July 23, 2010; 06:52 AM ET | Comments (28)

A failure to learn from

Sadly, this time, they fired before they aimed - a hard leadership lesson to learn, but a necessary one.

By Jon Cowan | July 23, 2010; 06:43 AM ET | Comments (1)

Falling prey to the 'zero tolerance' card

Leaders rush to condemn anyone who makes an "identity" mistake, in part, because it makes the leader look virtuous to do so.

By Martin Davidson | July 23, 2010; 06:24 AM ET | Comments (6)

From policy wonk to rock star

Washington is called "Hollywood for Ugly People" for the very reason that many leaders love the attention and ego-boosts that come with their newfound power.

By Robert Goodwin | March 12, 2010; 03:52 PM ET | Comments (2)

Beware, new leaders

Sexuality is a power source that has to be reckoned with in leadership -- and one we rarely discuss except when a scandal erupts.

By Marie Wilson | March 12, 2010; 11:55 AM ET | Comments (28)

The needy leader

Long ago, strong male leaders exerted sexual prowess. Now we have the inverse: Needy men seeking public attention via electoral politics and then illicit sex.

By Alan M. Webber | March 11, 2010; 04:10 PM ET | Comments (2)

The halo-pitchfork cycle

We crown leaders with a shining halo, then gather our torches and delight in running them out of town when they prove themselves human.

By Lt. Col. Todd Henshaw (Ret.) | March 11, 2010; 02:45 PM ET | Comments (4)

The female advantage

Why we don't see women in positions of power -- the precious few that there are -- exhibit sexual hubris?

By Lisa Larson | March 11, 2010; 12:31 PM ET | Comments (3)

No private zone

The potent libido of some in power is unchanged. What has changed is the media, where new and 'scruffy' outlets have shrunk the zone of privacy accorded the powerful.

By Benjamin W. Heineman, Jr. | March 11, 2010; 07:09 AM ET | Comments (0)

Powerful women not a turn-on

What we want is for leaders to have personal discipline. Is that too much to ask?

By Juana Bordas | March 11, 2010; 06:13 AM ET | Comments (66)

Sex and power

Why do so many politicians jeopardize their careers by giving in to sexual temptation? They believe the rules don't apply to them.

By Michael Maccoby | March 11, 2010; 06:01 AM ET | Comments (1)

Appetite for arrogance

We have moved beyond allowing leaders to have, a la Henry VIII, whatever sexual conquest they desire. Too bad some of our leaders didn't get this memo.

By Coro Fellows | March 11, 2010; 03:03 AM ET | Comments (0)

 
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