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The success rate and longevity of top executives is vastly different than a generation ago.


In the past two decades, 30% of Fortune 500 CEOs have lasted less than 3 years. Top executive failure rates are as high as 75% and rarely less than 30%. Chief executives now are lasting 7.6 years on a global average down from 9.5 years in 1995.


According to the Harvard Business Review, 2 out of 5 new CEOs fail in their first 18 months on the job. It appears that the major reason for the failure has nothing to do with competence, or knowledge, or experience, but rather with hubris and ego and a leadership style out of touch with modern times.


Research shows when someone assumes a new or different leadership role they have a 40% chance of demonstrating a disappointing performance. Furthermore, 82% of newly appointed leaders derail because they fail to build partnerships with subordinates and peers.


Sydney Finkelstein, author of Why Smart Executives Fail, researched several spectacular failures during a six-year period. He concluded that these CEOs had similar deadly habits of which most were related to unchecked egos.


David Dotlich and Peter C. Cairo, in their book, Why CEOs Fail: The 11 Behaviors That Can Derail Your Climb To The Top And How To Manage Them, present 11 cogent reasons why CEOs fail, most of which have to do with hubris, ego and a lack of emotional intelligence.


Call it overconfidence or ego, but powerful and successful leaders often distrust or feel they don’t need advice from anyone.


Powerful and successful leaders often distrust or feel they don’t need advice from anyone.


A study by Kelly See, Elizabeth Wolfe Morrison, and Naomi Rothman, published in Organizational Behavior and Human Decision, concluded one characteristic of powerful and successful leaders is high levels of self-confidence.


Unfortunately, the researchers say, the higher the self-confidence, the less likely these leaders are open to advice and feedback. They also make the point that powerful leaders seldom get useful feedback from within their organizations. Subordinates are loath to give bad news or critical feedback, and many boards are not diligent in seeing feedback for performance improvement, particularly relationships, as important as other things, such as financial results.


See and her colleagues also contend that today’s leaders are under enormous stresses. These stresses often produce anxiety, fear and physical illness, which strong leaders are hesitant to divulge over concern about judgments that may be made about their capacities or longevity.


Why is this leadership crisis happening? One reason may be the gaps between how leaders see themselves and how others see them. Call it self-awareness. These blind spots can be career limiting. The wider the gap, the more resistance there is to change. It also makes it difficult to create a positive organizational culture where openness and honesty are not encouraged.

Good leaders make people around them successful.





They are passionate and committed, authentic, courageous, honest and reliable.


But in today's high-pressure environment, leaders need a confidante, a mentor, or someone they can trust to tell the truth about their behavior.


They rarely get that from employees and infrequently from board members.


The best CEOs are constantly learning. They draw on their curiosity and their great networking skills to acquire knowledge and insights on a wide range of topics.


They sit on both for-profit and non-profit boards. They get involved in community activities, as well as representing their company at functions where they can learn and meet new people.


A CEO can be passionate, authentic, and curious, but without the courage to take action and make really difficult decisions, his or her probability of failure goes way up. When CEO Magazine picks their CEO of the year, one of the major criteria they use is leadership courage.


From my experience, a CEOs’ toughest decisions are in three areas: 1) strategy, 2) structure, and 3) people.


My job as your coach is to help you spot the things you have missed and then help you fit them into your complex and difficult day.