10 Reasons Leaders Fail, Plus One

“The arrogance of success is to think that what you did yesterday will be sufficient for tomorrow.” William Pollard

10 reasons leaders fail:

  1. Stop learning.
  2. Don’t build the team.
  3. Can’t collaborate.
  4. Won’t adapt.
  5. Won’t delegate.
  6. Assume.
  7. Blame.
  8. Lack focus.
  9. Don’t communicate.
  10. Don’t plan.

Adapted from contributions on Facebook (10/16/12). See more.

Learning from failure:

I talked with Alan Wurtzel, former CEO of the now defunct Circuit City Stores, Inc., yesterday. (From more than 500 stores and 10 billion in sales to nothing.) He’s also the son of the founder, Sam Wurtzel.

Jim Collins chose Circuit City Stores, Inc. as a “great” company in, “Good to Great.” What happened?

Alan’s book, “Good to Great to Gone,” is his personal journey to make sense of what went wrong. Its part history, part explanation, and most importantly, filled with powerful leadership lessons. I loved reading it.

Plus one:

Arrogance is the main reason leaders fail.

You could say there are many reasons leaders fail. I’ll say arrogance is behind most. How many of the 10 reasons listed above are expressions of arrogance?

Circuit City thrived when its leadership acted humbly and died because of pride. Wurtzel didn’t say that, I am. You might suggest they failed to adapt. I’ll say pride prevents leaders from adapting. Arrogance destroys.

Four Symptoms of leadership arrogance:

  1. Focusing on short-term success.
  2. Over concern about the opinion of others. Arrogant leaders are controlled by public opinion. Fear, not confidence, drives arrogant leaders.
  3. Unwillingness to admit mistakes; lying to save face.
  4. Blaming rather than taking responsibility.

Five powerful words from Wurtzel:

“I may not be right.”

Wurtzel’s five simple words answer arrogance. The greatest power of humility is it makes room for doubt. The most deadly power of pride is it prevents it.

How can leaders address the challenge of arrogance?

How have you seen arrogance hurt organizations and leaders?