Friday, November 20, 2009

Review - Derailed: Five Lessons Learned from Catastrophic Failures of Leadership By Tim Irwin

Derailed: Five Lessons Learned from Catastrophic Failures of Leadership. Tim Irwin Nashville, Tenn.: Thomas Nelson, 2009. Hardcover. 240 pages. ISBN 159555274X. $24.99.

This book tells the story of how six previously successful CEOs failed their high profile companies, in other words, got “derailed”. According to the author, Derailment, has its origin in character flaws, and the prescription to cure these is self-awareness, taking responsibility, and, above all, humility.

The six CEOs are: Robert Nardelli (Home Deport), Carly Fiorina (HP), Durk Jager (P&G), Steven Heyer (Starwood), Fran Raines (Fannie Mae) and Dick Fuld (Lehman Brothers).

Robert Nardelli dictatorially micromanaged Home Depot to the extent that executive turnover reached 98 percent. Nardelli failed to respond this signal that something might be awry with his management style. At Hewlett-Packard, Carly Fiorina created a culture of criticism and blame. The only person who could not be criticized was Fiorina herself — despite the fact that her management of a merger with Compaq failed to produce the promised results. She was replaced after she started browbeating her own board.

Durk Jager tore into Procter and Gamble with the aggression of one who believes he is always right — except that he wasn’t always right. Steven Heyer resigned as Starwood Hotels CEO rather than face an inquiry into naughty emails he was alleged to have sent to a female employee.

Frank Raines, CEO at Fannie Mae, failed to take responsibility for the accounting irregularities at Fannie Mae under his leadership thus destroying an entire industry. Dick Fuld fought his way to the top of Lehman Brothers, which promptly collapsed.

A website that accompanies this book offers to assess your personal risk of becoming one of the fallen mighty.

I received this book from the Thomas Nelson’s Book Review Blogger program at: