Leadership on Point

Crash and Burn: Bad Leader, or Set Up to Fail?

September 26, 2011 Richard Levin

Leaders Set Up To Fail

I was recently asked to advise on a situation in which a senior executive, new to the company, was spiraling downward in his performance.  The executive had been pre-screened by a global search firm and was interviewed by an internal search committee representing numerous corporate functions.  His references were stellar, his executive presence superb. Six weeks into his new job, nearly all of his colleagues and direct reports were in agreement: the hire was a misfire. What went wrong?

The most common response is that the company and its search firm missed something in the executive’s profile, and the executive fell short of expectations.  Our tendency is to focus on what the leader did “wrong”; maybe he failed to engage his team, perhaps he didn’t have great communication skills, possibly he could not articulate his vision or spark people’s (or his own) imagination. In this scenario, the leader’s team is typically presented as competent and well-intentioned, ready to be motivated and inspired by the “right” leader.  The team sees itself as eager and hungry for exceptional leadership, and feels the new leader let them down.  The outcome is a situation in which the leader and the team co-generate an escalating spiral of underperformance, frustration, and anger.


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No Man Is An Island

September 20, 2011 Anne Etra - Guest Author

The ten-year anniversary of 9/11 has come and gone.

We watched the ceremonies, listened to tearful remembrances from loved ones, considered the fearless, fallen heroes who died trying to help their fellow humans.  We were outraged all over again by the pure hatred of those who carried out this heinous, cowardly act.

Hopefully, we also felt our hearts.

Sadness and anger are exhausting, and they sometimes bring us to a place of quietude, of reflection and stillness.  To achieve a counterpoint to the madness we go within, examining ourselves, our family friends and colleagues, and our place in the sun.

In business – as in other areas of our existence – it’s all about relationships.

Human interactions count – whether dealing with clients, co-workers, staff, suppliers, your audience, or the guy on the corner where you buy your daily coffee.   We rarely act completely alone, and are all in some way intertwined as the world turns.  To achieve our objectives to get through the day or to meet this month’s profit projections we depend on each other.  Yes, at times we must be tough, but a little gentleness and understanding go a long way.

And that includes being gentle with yourself.

In the spirit of cooperation, and operating on the theory that every act of generosity puts a powerful plus against the war on terror,

I offer this free download of 50 Fitness Food and Relaxation Tips

These small gems you can do in the morning, at work, while you eat, food-shop and relax at home will help strengthen your body, sharpen your mind, and calm you down.  This in turn allows you to feel better, and generate the positive energy to successfully play your role in the rich and beautiful interconnected world we live in.

Share them with a friend.



Written by Anne Etra, President of ETRAwords.com, fitness professional and consultant.  She can be reached at anne@etrawords.com.

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Ten Years Later, Remembering The Events of 9/11/01

September 6, 2011 Richard Levin

Remembering September 11, 2001

It was mid-day on September 11, 2001.  The planes had hit the World Trade Center and the Pentagon three hours earlier , and it was feeling like the end of the world.  My colleagues and I were scrambling to answer phone calls from anxious clients, family members, and friends when one of my associates called from the field.  She had received a telephone call from a friend of hers at the United Nations, requesting any documents or research we had on helping children cope with tragic situations.  There were pieces of articles I had written and notes for articles I had hoped to write, but nothing specific to the caller’s request.  All I could say was that I would do my best to pull some concepts together and forward some guidelines to the UN.  I closed the door to my office, and over several hours allowed my own thoughts and fears to pour through my fingers onto my laptop.  Writing a document to help people respond to questions that really had no answers, proved remarkably therapeutic and cathartic; I realized I needed some perspective on my own feelings, and a means of guiding people through the madness of the day.  The mission to assuage people’s fear and anxiety kept me feeling productive and less personally afraid.  I could have used days or weeks to write everything I wanted to say, but the UN caller was clear about her urgent deadline: she needed my document before the close of the school day.  I sent her what I had, with minimal time to proofread what I wrote, no frame of mind to add a pithy title, and buffeted by the senseless reality of the day.  Later that afternoon, I heard that the UN had distributed my document, “Children’s Reactions to Stress”, to the schools of New York City to help children, their families, and their teachers understand in some small measure how to cope with feeling scared and unsafe. Without the use of the Internet, the document went “viral” the old-fashioned way: from New York, copies were faxed to other cities; and from the UN, paper copies were mailed to other countries.


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