Tuesday, January 29, 2013

When Failure is Caused by Leadership

The examples are too many to name. We could go on forever giving examples of how projects, companies and entire countries fell due to a myriad of reasons. Some blame it on greed. Some blame it on the economy. Some blame it on the break down of communication. Some blame it on the culture. But when it's all said and done, "everything rises and falls on leadership!" I'm sure you've heard this phrased coined by John C. Maxwell a million times but I'm going to say it one more time: Everything rises and falls on leadership.

I'm sure some of us can remember some of the colossal failures such as the handling of Hurricane Katrina, the failure of the savings and loan industry, the recent housing loan practices, the Bernie Madoff scandal and the list goes on an on. When it was all said and done, it was the leaders who took the ultimate fall. Although leaders may not necessarily be the direct cause of a failure. Leaders are ultimately accountable to how a team, business, or company performs.

There usually isn't one reason why a company, business, economy or political system fail but it usually comes down to one of the three reasons:

  1. Lack of performance - You can think of all the fancy advertising, marketing, and sales campaigns you can create but it call comes down to execution. When any organization fail, someone or a group of people didn't perform up to expectations for whatever reason. It could be miscommunication, lack of skills and or expertise or sometimes it can be just bad decision making.
  2. Leadership break down - Many times leadership can be out of touch with what's really going on in a business. A leader is only as good as the people surrounding him or her. In many organizations, the leaders don't convey their vision or at least not enough. Leaders have one agenda but reality on how the company is run is quite different
  3. Team not receiving support leadership - You'll often see this in project management. After a project is under way, you'll find that leadership will have one idea of the scope, budget, time and schedule and leadership have another idea on how a project is to executed. If leadership along with other stakeholders either involved or affected by a project aren't in agreement, you can guarantee that a project or organization will fail.
Fortunately or unfortunately (how ever you look at it) leaders cannot pass the blame. Whether a company succeeds or fails, it comes down to the leaders. Usually, when a company is bought out or merged, who are the first people to be fired? You guessed it. The leaders. If the company was successful, the company, business or political party would still be in power, right?

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