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Top 5 Leadership Epic Fails

June 10, 2014

We’ve all made some bad decisions as leaders but hopefully never on the scale of these:

Top management from all these brands have made big mistakes

Top management from all these brands made big mistakes

Failed to adapt – George Fisher led Kodak, the once dominant photography consumables business.  Despite Kodak having built a digital camera way back in 1975 he failed to anticipate the demise of traditional photography and led the business into a spiral that resulted in his successors filing for Chapter 11 bankruptcy.  Interestingly, closest rival Fuji read the writing on the wall and used their expertise to diversify into alternative sectors.

Tweet in haste – our desire to capitalise on social media has tripped up many brands and leaders.  A marketing manager at American Apparel approved an email to customers in the path of Hurricane Sandy saying “In case you’re bored during the storm.  20% off everything for the next 36 hours.”  As the hurricane claimed 110 lives and switched off much of the East Coast a Twitter storm erupted lambasting the retailer as insensitive.

Don’t appear selfish – Tony Hayward CEO at BP during the Gulf of Mexico oil spill was forced to resign largely because of two somewhat selfish acts.  He apparently took a day off to go sailing during the midst of the crisis and he famously remarked “I’d like my life back” while thousands of Americans counted their losses.

Don’t assume you have the Midas Touch – There’s little doubt that Sir Stelios Haj-Ioannou was in the right place at the right time when he set up EasyJet in 1995, the same ‘no frills and cheaper in advance’ failed to succeed at easyCinema and easyPizza.

Big isn’t always better – When Steve Case and Gerald Levin sketched out the AOL Time Warner merger they talked about visions of a giant internet charged media service.  In reality the marriage was far from easy and the clash of cultures amongst the 90,000 strong workforce contributed to what became known as ‘the biggest mistake in corporate history’.

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