Seth Kahan
Author, consultant

Seth Kahan

Change expert and author who has advised executives in 50-plus organizations, including Shell, World Bank, Peace Corps and NASA. He can be reached at


Down for the count

Q: The once admired carmaker is reeling from revelations about uncontrolled acceleration and the recall of millions of vehicles. Can the company ever regain its renown for quality and its aura of success? Is success always linked to reputation? Would you buy a Toyota now?

Toyota has lost its renown for quality. It will not be regained until they put enough distance between the current consumer experience and this catastrophe. And frankly, this catastrophe is not over.

Toyota has not quelled concern or suspicion. The performance of their senior executives, broadcast on C-SPAN, is unacceptable. With leadership like that there will be no turnaround in the near future.

Further, even if their cars perform flawlessly from here on out, the lives lost and disrupted in accidents are significant. Trust toward their brand in the marketplace continues to plummet.

What can students of success learn from this terrible downfall?

1. Leaders known for consistent quality can suddenly plummet -- no rest for the weary.

2. Success is not just about performance, but behavior under pressure. Rebuilding trust must begin immediately and Toyota is a case study in what not to do.

Where will they go from here? Well, at this point there are only two choices: out or up. I hope they choose the latter. What every student of success knows is, that is truly their choice. That is good news. Rebounding, coming clean, is within our control.

By Seth Kahan  |  March 1, 2010; 12:00 AM ET  | Category:  Recovering from failure Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   StumbleUpon   Technorati  
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