Understanding the leadership traits of CIO’s that fail, or any leader that fails, may be more important than understanding the leadership traits of those that succeed. That is because having a successful leadership strategy is fundamental to achieving your business strategy. And like business, the accounting ledger of leadership records both credits and debits with the positive leadership traits posting as credits and the bad behaviors as debits. What is often overlooked is that leadership accounting relies on some unique math which does not treat the debits equally with the credits.
Now that there is a blanket of snow on the ground, my outside work around the farm has largely stopped for the year giving me lots of free time to catch up on some reading. So I made a trip to my local library and collected an assortment of business books on one particular interest I have right now. That is in looking back at recent and older business books on successful leadership characteristics, soft skills, and the connection of effective leadership to business strategy.
I am really curious to see how the thinking from a few years ago or even farther back might have changed on topics such as what makes for effective leadership, the importance of soft skills, strategies for job success, and their linkages to successful business strategy and to failures in strategy.
Interestingly enough although there are mountains of business books on successful leadership and business strategy there are very few business books on why leaders fail. What stands out is that for all the attention given to the soft skills of transformational leadership there is very little thought paid to the bad behaviors that negate those important soft skills and sink a career.
Why Leaders Fail
Well, one of the books I brought home was “Why CEO’s Fail: The 11 Behaviors That Can Derail Your Climb to The Top” (Amazon). I selected this book because all of the other business books I found were focused on the positive leadership traits and desirable soft skills needed for executive job success.
For me job success is a strategy of building one success on top of another which takes time and relies on selective application of a wide range of leadership traits based on the situation. Job failure on the other hand can be swift and immediate.
For CEO’s and CIO’s a career shortening event (CSE) can arise from a series of failed business strategies or a single failed project. So as important as it is to focus on the leadership traits that make for job success it is more important to understand the leadership behaviors that can lead to a failure in your role.
“It takes many good deeds to build a good reputation, and only one bad one to lose it.” — Benjamin Franklin.
Ben Franklin understood the math of leadership accounting which is something more CIO’s should learn from. Consider that from every email you send, every meeting you attend, and the results of every single day, you are posting credits and debits to your leadership ledger. As you consider this for your own self, realize some behaviors will post as debits that are not overtly bad. This can happen when you are being neutral or overly cautious when you are expected to be positive or just a problem solver.
11 Behaviors of Failure
The 11 behaviors in Why CEOs Fail are actually universal for all leaders. Which is why everyone should make room in their career development plans for some time to work on minimizing these behaviors in addition to developing the desirable leadership traits.
- Arrogance: You’re right and everyone else is wrong
- Melodrama: You always grab the center of attention
- Volatility: Your mood shifts are sudden and unpredictable
- Excessive Caution: The next decision you make may be your first
- Habitual Distrust: You focus on the negative
- Allofness: You disengage and disconnect
- Mischievousness: You know that the rules are only suggestions
- Eccentricity: It’s fun to be different just for the sake of it
- Passive Resistance: Your silence is misinterpreted as agreement
- Perfectionism: You get little things right while the big things go wrong
- Eagerness to PLease: You want to win any popularity contest
So for the CIO struggling to find greater job success or to be more involved in developing the business strategy, realize that your peers are considering if your leadership balance sheet is healthy enough to have you be included.
Finally, CIO’s should consider additional training or education especially when businesses are recognizing the importance of effective leadership, because of this, masters in public administration and MBA degree programs now feature leadership traits in the curriculum.
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