The Seven Habits of Spectacularly Unsuccessful Executives – Forbes

Sydney Finkelstein, the Steven Roth Professor of Management at the Tuck School of Business at Dartmouth College, published “Why Smart Executives Fail” 8 years ago. In it, he shared some of his research on what over 50 former high-flying companies – like Enron, Tyco, WorldCom, Rubbermaid, and Schwinn – did to become complete failures.  It turns out that the senior executives at the companies all had 7 Habits in common.  Finkelstein calls them the Seven Habits of Spectacularly Unsuccessful Executives.

I’m not sure why a 2004 paper is being referrred to in a 2012 article, but hey, the insights still ring true. While the list outlines the 7 habits of unsuccesful executives it most probably applies to all bosses, leaders, supervisors, colleagues … lets just say all people.
The habits mostly speak to inflexibility of some sort.These are the warning signs:
  1. Is over confidence at market position rife?
  2. Is the organisation too much part of personal identity?
  3. Are they quick to jump to solutions without consultation, discussion or thought to ramifications?
  4. Do they attempt to eliminate dissidents?
  5. Do they neglect oversight of operations in favour of maintaining public image?
  6. Are apparent obstacles being ignored?
  7. Are terms of reference limited to personal experiences only?
I have paraphrased the 7 habits here but do read the original copy. I especially enjoyed the warning signs.
The article offers some advice at the end — if you can recognise these qualities in your CEO its time to leave. Bob Sutton recommends people move on as well when the signs are bad. I am waiting for someone to write about what to do if you want/need to stay.