6 Leadership Lessons From Failed CEOs
Leadership can make or break an organization, and unfortunately there are many examples of where leadership has gone awry. A good leader is more than an eloquent speaker or inspiring motivator – he or she empowers employees to do their jobs effectively and keep the organization going in the right direction. Fortunately, credit union leaders can learn from these failures and work toward a more positive future.
Here are six leadership lessons to apply to your credit union to achieve success:
1. Foster a positive company culture. It is leadership’s responsibility to promotea healthy company culture. The Wells Fargo scandal last year, in which fraudulent accounts were opened on behalf of millions of customers, shed light on poor business practices and a toxic company culture. Setting sales goals that were too aggressive contributed to this downfall. By focusing more on sales and profit than its people, Wells Fargo lost trust of its customers and the public.
2. Hold yourself accountable for company actions. In 2015, Volkswagen came under fire for lying about emissions in its diesel vehicles. To make matters worse, Martin Winterkorn, the former CEO, refused to admit knowledge of the company’s wrongdoing, despite evidence to the contrary. When an issue arises, leadership must take responsibility for their role and actions taken and show accountability.
3. Communicate with transparency about company activities. We all remember the Enron scandal, in which leadership cooked the books to cover up substantial financial losses. As a result, executives were prosecuted, the company went bankrupt and employees and shareholders lost billions of dollars. Not only was this behavior illegal, but it also goes to show the importance of being honest about company earnings and status. Transparency is crucial for employees and stakeholders.
4. Don’t become a victim of your own ego. Theranos CEO Elizabeth Holmes frequently stated that her innovative blood-testing company was going to save lives and “change the world.” The problem? The technology she was selling didn’t work. Her company, which at first seemed like a billion-dollar success, was valued at zero. Holmes was quick to talk a big game, but failed to deliver. As a leader, it is important to be realistic, authentic and human.
5. Treat others with respect. Uber, the ubiquitous ridesharing service, has been embroiled in several scandals in recent months. (Now former) CEO Travis Kalanick’scaustic comments to one of Uber’s drivers drew widespread criticism. If you don’t respect your employees, they will not respect you.
6. Keep the company’s mission and values in sight. When a United passenger was dragged off a plane for refusing to give up a seat he paid for, people were shocked.This incident certainly didn’t reflect one of United’s core company values, “We Fly Friendly.” The CEO of United, Oscar Munoz, was criticized for an insincere apology to United’s customers and the passenger. A company’s mission and values must be modeled by all in the organization, especially those at the top.
There are many valuable lessons to be learned from failed leadership. By maintaining open and honest communication and sticking to your values, you are more likely to take your credit union in the right direction.
Robin Kolvek is CEO at EPL, Inc. She can be reached at 205-408-5300 or email@example.com.