From Lance Armstrong to the IRS, 2013 has so far been rich with lessons to be learned from leadership failures. We get at least as many ideas about good leadership from failures as we do from successes, so these five should be instructive:
1. Innovate First for a Greater Good
The example: Pfizer, for devoting billions of dollars to develop “Lybrido,” a potential pill to make women want more sex. Question: might that money be better spent to lessen disease and suffering? The reminder: leadership for profit AND greater good is usually more powerful than for one aim or the other.
2. Collaborate, Cooperate, Negotiate, be Decisive and Empathetic
The example: Congress and the Obama administration for the no-win, lose/lose, no-solution budget “sequester” - such a massive failures on budget implementation that they are evicting low income Americans from their homes. The lesson: repeating the same behavior and expecting a different result is the definition of insanity.
3. Integrity / Authenticity
The example: Lance Armstrong. I know, so four months ago, but even so, it's still a great 2013 example. Lesson: lies are like flies that help recycle rotten leadership.
The example: IRS. Saying last week she hadn’t broken any laws but then refusing to answer any questions, the top IRS official involved in evaluating tax exempt organizations dissed an entire congressional committee, and taxpayers everywhere. Lesson: name it and claim it -- that's leadership.
The example: Once again, Congress. This time, for its failure to authorize funds and resources to maintain bridges and other national infrastructure, leading to last week’s Interstate Highway 5 bridge collapse. The reminder: leadership means sustaining the structures and resources that enable a shared, safe way of life.
Ready, set, learn.