Sometimes life’s lessons can spring from the most unlikely places.
In a book entitled “Why Smart Executives Fail,” Dartmouth College business professor Sydney Finkelstein researched 50 major corporate failures in an attempt to find common themes that led to the demise of these companies.
Finkelstein imagined that he could educate other top executives and managers on poor choices made by companies and steer others away from making them.
In the end, he came up with what he calls “Seven Habits of Spectacularly Unsuccessful Executives.”
Finkelstein probably underestimated that value of this. He thought his discoveries would serve top management well, but in reality his findings have some value for each and every employee of a company.
It really doesn’t matter what kind of job you have, because adopting any of these seven habits will undermine your ability to do a good job. You might not ruin a company in the process, but you can damage your own job or career. See if you don’t agree.
Habit No. 1: These executives believe they and their companies dominate their environment.
This is shortsighted from the get-go. No one works in a vacuum. Every worker and every company is dependent on other companies, employees, and customers. Everything you do affects someone else and to believe differently is to head down a path of self-destruction.
Habit No. 2: They identify with the companies so closely they see no difference between their own interests and those of the company.
This is a tricky one. We want our companies to have corporate consciences, and the only way to achieve that is to have executives, managers and employees who take the company’s values to heart. Those provide guidelines for how the company must conduct itself. But we need to realize that what’s good for General Motors isn’t necessarily what’s good for the rest of the country.
Habit No. 3: They think they have all the answers.
No matter who you are or what job you hold, you don’t.
Habit No. 4: They eliminate anyone who is not committed to them.
We all want and need a degree of loyalty from those we work with. It may be nothing more than a respect for divergent opinion, but that’s essential for any company to address problems as they develop. If employees don’t believe they have the freedom to tell the truth, they lose respect for the company and the individuals who run it.
Habit No. 5: They are obsessed with and want to control the company image.
The image of the company isn’t developed in a brainstorming session. It is developed from the way you do business each day, the policies you choose to adopt and how you treat individuals as workers and customers. You have control over your actions, but not the image.
Habit No. 6: They underestimate obstacles.
The beauty of determination and optimism are that they can be contagious and used to your advantage to overcome problems. The downside is that bluster and determination aren’t enough to get you past every challenge.
Habit No. 7: They rely on what has worked for them in the past.
Once again, successful people don’t like to be told they might not be right all the time. A track record is a very valuable asset for any individual, however, keeping an open mind their might be a better way to accomplish tasks is an even more valuable asset.