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Leadership training with Sydney Finkelstein for a business failure warning system

We all know examples of spectacular business failures. They make headlines every now and then. We see the main actors of the spectacle who become instant black characters, often because the debacle is due to their fraudulent acts or incompetence.

They inhabit our collective imagination of several days and disappear into insignificance. Unless, of course, we are talking about collapses as gigantic as that of Enron or Lehman Brothers. They become more of a turning point in history of business and, more often than not, the world as it so strongly relies on economy. However, you often get a feeling that there is not much going on in terms of analyzing what led to these meltdowns in the first place. Why perfectly capable executives ran their ventures aground, without anybody blowing the whistle early enough to stop it? What we could learn from this sort of insight would certainly be useful in leadership training and executive education in the sense of giving us something to think about to avoid this kind of disaster in our own business.

This was the thinking behind Sydney Finkelstein's approach to business education. He embarked on a strongly criticized project to investigate a variety of business mistakes by going to companies that have experienced them, poring over all possible explanations and taking face to face to the main actors. What initially started as an enterprise few people saw sense in developed into two extremely popular books for executives and anyone else interested in the corporate slips as well as an entire approach to management. Finkelstein, who is now one of the most prominent names in the Tuck Business School and a much wanted leadership training expert, even developed a system that executives can use to monitor whether there is any danger of their own corporations having approaching trouble. Certainly he broke new ground in a field that sometimes seems a little stale.

What are the results of his research? What are things that spell trouble for companies? Why do executives fail? Finkelstein creates a classification that includes mindset failure, delusional thinking, information breakdown and toxic habits. At the same time, he makes a point of saying that companies usually do not fail because of crooked careerists at the top or because of intellectual inability. Most leaders are well-meaning and acutely intelligent. Education is also not a major issue. What he means by mindset failure is a situation when top decision- makers agree on and stick to a course of action that is wrong. They misinterpret the reality, failing to read opportunities and threats properly, even though they are perfectly capable of doing it. Delusions are a result of the fact that there is nobody strong enough to challenge the top brass in a venture, making them think they cannot make mistakesPsychology Articles, while they surely can. Lack of information comes from inadequate auditing or other forms of oversight. Bad habits are aplenty but Finkelstein focuses on seven main groups. His diagnosis and cure are worth including in your company's next leadership training.

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