CEO Drama and How to Avoid It

You don’t need to be the leader of a multimillion-dollar corporation to create unnecessary drama in your business. Today’s news is full of stories about the latest CEO missteps. Here are some of the headlines, along with some lessons to be learned and tips on how to be a better leader in your business.

Setting the Right Example

Don’t let personal relationships interfere. Even the founder of Best Buy, Richard Schulze, finds his head on the chopping block (in a manner of speaking) in connection with the alleged “inappropriate relationship” between his hand-picked successor, CEO Bruce Dunn, and a female subordinate. Of course, Schulze is a multimillionaire many times over, and Dunn himself walks away with a cool $6.64 Million in severance. Still, your reputation has no price.  (Lesson: When improper conduct is reported against another executive, take action, don’t sweep it under the rug.) Wall Street Journal

All eyes are on the CEO. You’d like to think that in 2012 your private business is…your private business. But when you’re the CEO, more than just the two people in a relationship are impacted. (Lesson: See your relationship from the eyes of subordinates. Employees watch the person at the top closely. Relationships between managers and subordinates can lead to poor morale, charges of favoritism, and stress on the company–not to mention broken family relationships and blights on otherwise spotless careers.) Small Business Trends

Making the Wrong Decisions

Resume padding will haunt you. As one CEO found out, claiming to have a degree when you don’t can topple even the loftiest. And trying to claim that you didn’t write your bio, but that a headhunting firm did won’t save you. (Lesson: Focus on what you do have and don’t pad it. It’s an obvious lesson, but true.) Christian Science Monitor

Poor decisions will have huge implications. Just ask Jamie Dimon, CEO of JPMorgan Chase, whose company lost $2 billion on the CEO’s watch—way to go! In apologizing for the poor decision-making leading to the loss, Dimon said at a board meeting “This should never have happened. I can’t justify it. Unfortunately, these mistakes are self-inflicted.” (Lesson. Poor decisions will affect not only you and your business but others who depend upon you and your business, too. Everyone makes mistakes, but using poor judgment and making bad decisions not in your company’s best interests will have repercussions.) ABC News

Lessons Learned from Missteps

Don’t try to avoid responsibility. WalMart CEO Mike Duke is discovering that one way or the other, he may not be able to escape responsibility for his company’s bribery allegations in Mexico. The company’s senior managers apparently knew about the issue and didn’t disclose it to anyone until they found out the media was likely to disclose it anyway. (Lesson: Large or small, no entrepreneur should try to skirt responsibility for their business mistakes, especially by trying to hide those mistakes once they’re likely to be made public.) CNN Money

Your misdeeds will find you out. The above list of leadership errors is just the beginning. Other recent examples of such shenanigans include Chesapeake Energy founder and CEO Aubrey McClendon, who supposedly improperly tapped his own company for personal loans and Green Mountain Coffee’s CEO and chairman, who also flouted the rules to buy himself a 163-foot yacht.  (Lesson: No matter what size your business may be, self-centered behavior shows a lack of discipline and will damage both your business and your reputation in the end.) Bloomberg Businessweek

Avoiding Problems in Your Business

How to gain wisdom and avoid foolishness. Just as wisdom does not require age and experience, foolishness does not indicate a lack of intelligence. Both, according to blogger Stephan De Villiers, involve being able to ask the right questions and get the right answers. The Leadership Connexion

Recognize the traits that could kill your business. Traits like dishonesty, lack of respect, arrogance, greed, and inattentiveness are amongst the problems that can cause the downfall of even the most successful CEOs, as we’ve seen above. But they are certainly not traits confined to large businesses alone. Here blogger Victorino Abrugar lists for us these and other traits which could kill your business before it even has a chance of becoming more successful.

Choosing A Better Path

Your behavior will reflect upon you and your business. Business blogger Arthur Piccio reminds us that others remember the ways we have treated them badly far longer than the good things we have done. Remember that whether your bad behavior affects customers, partners, suppliers, or the community, it will likely be remembered for a long time to come. UPrinting

How to be a better leader in your business. To end on a positive note, there are ways to lead well in your small business. Whether you’ve thought of it or not, Dr. Shannon Reese says every entrepreneur has decided at some point to be a leader. Her four part series beginning here looks at what qualities are necessary to be the right kind of leader in business and in life. Strategies & Tactics for Women

4 Reactions
  1. I think the Golden Rule and “honesty is the best policy” should be emphasized here.

  2. Everybody agrees that J.P. Morgan made a big blunder. But give Dimon credit for facing the problem head-on and not making any excuses. All CEOs will make mistakes — though not necessarily $2 billion ones — but often how you handle them is what really impacts your reputation.

    • Matt, I agree with you about addressing mistakes being of primary importance.

      Although it does feel scary that one person — a trader — could have caused such losses just a few years after the financial meltdown. That suggests that there’s a lot of “wink wink” going on as long as the huge profits flow in. I suspect senior management (not just Dimon) didn’t WANT to look closer. They got the upside. Now they have to live with the consequences of the downsides.

      – Anita

  3. It is the duty of managerial staff to bring all the issues in higher authorities’ knowledge & vice versa, knowing problems early could be solved and they can learn from mistakes. Hiding a mistake means you are committing another mistake, which lead to destruction/bankruptcy just as apparently WalMart’s senior managers did.