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3 biggest leadership failures in from world-renowned CEOs

Harvey Stewart

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biggest leadership failures

3 biggest leadership failures in from world-renowned CEOs

Operating a global business is no easy feat. Even the smartest, most accomplished company and entrepreneurial minds can make mistakes. In fact, it is often these mistakes that define a CEO’s legacy, propelling them to make amends and take challenges on, or shy away from positions of leadership. Here are some of the worst leadership failures from famous business leaders.

Warren Anderson

Union Carbide is an American chemical company that has been operating since 1917. In December 1984, the Union Carbide facility in Bhopal, India had a catastrophic failure, in which methyl isocyanate (MIC) was accidentally released from the plant. The accidental leak caused 16 000 deaths (claimed) and at least 550 000 non-fatal injuries (around 40 000 people were permanently disabled).

The CEO of the company, Warren Anderson, flew to Bhopal to show his support and commitment. However, he soon left and never returned. He was charged with manslaughter at one point by Indian authorities; however, it resulted in nothing.

Kay Whitmore

Kay Whitemore was the CEO of Kodak, criticised for his lack of creative vision, strategic flaws and complacency. In 1990, Whitemore fell asleep in a meeting with Bill Gates, in which Gates was discussing the possibility of integrating Kodak’s products with Windows. Ironically, Kodak had developed the first digital camera in 1975; however, the technology was never taken seriously. Whitmore declined Gates’ offer, and a few short years later, digital was taking over, and Kodak was struggling.

Gerald Ratner

Gerald Ratner was the CEO and Chairman of the Ratners Group (now known as the Signet Group). He is known all over the corporate world for “that speech”, which has become a cautionary tale on the importance of brand marketing, maintaining reputation and CEOs choosing their words carefully. In the speech, Ratner playfully denigrated several items retailed by the business, claiming they were cheap because they were terrible quality. After the address, customers stayed way from Ratners’ products, which saw the value of the company plummet by 500 million pounds (and almost go bankrupt).

I cover ridership and finance, with a focus on business, retirement planning, trusts and estates strategies, and taxwise charitable giving. I've written for Metic Press since 2019.

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Leadership

Top # US military leaders of all time

Harvey Stewart

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US military leaders of all time

Throughout its history, the United States has been involved in many conflicts, both domestic and abroad. As the world’s most powerful military force, it’s easy to see why US military leaders are held in such high regard in the historical record. Here are some of America’s most exceptional military leaders.

#1 George Patton (1885-1945)

George Patton was a General in the United States Army during the Second World War. He was in charge of the 7th Army in the Mediterranean theatre of WWII and the 3rd Army in France and Germany, following the invasion of Normandy in 1944.

Patton polarised people during his life and his image continues to be a point of contention in contemporary circles. He was seen as hard-working, colourful and a brilliant military strategist tactician; however, his achievements were often overshadowed by his public comments and vulgar speeches.

#2 Douglas MacArthur (1880-1964)

Douglas MacArthur was a 5-star General and Field Marshall of the Philippine Army. He played a pivotal role in the Pacific campaign during World War II and received the Medal of Honour for his services in the early 1940s. His father, Arthur MacArthur Jr., also won the Medal of Honour in the early 1900s, making them the only father-son to be awarded the medal.

#3 Norman Schwarzkopf (1934-2012)

Norman Schwarzkopf was a United States Army General, who was responsible for planning and executing Operation Desert Storm during the Gulf War. He assumed command of the United States Central Command in 1988 and his force eventually grew to entail close to 750 000 troops (both American and international).

He was pivotal in the implementation of Operation Desert Storm, which included an extended air campaign and monstrous ground offensive in the early 1990s. The campaign was highly successful, and Schwarzkopf was subsequently awarded military honours.

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Leadership

Top 3 most successful business decisions and ideas

Harvey Stewart

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Top 3 most successful business decisions and ideas

Millions of businesses are established every year. Only a small number of those are successful, and a microscopic amount of that portion go on to have international success. The reason for international success often comes down to one ingenious idea or person. Here are some of the best business decisions made in recent years.

Bringing back Steve Jobs (Apple)

Steve Jobs founded Apple with Steve Wozniak in 1976. They began selling Wozniak’s Apple I personal computer, before achieving massive commercial success with the Apple II, which was considered a ground-breaking development in personal computer technology. However, by the mid-1980s, Apple was struggling, and Jobs was forced out of the company by then-CEO John Sculley.

Later that year, Jobs founded NeXT, a computer platform company that specialised in higher education computer use. Over a decade later, Apple acquired NeXT, and Jobs again became CEO of the company in a matter of months. He revived Apple, which was on the verge of financial ruin and began developing a range of revolutionary products that have changed the world.

Revolutionary training clinics (General Electric)

Jack Welch was the Chairman and CEO of General Electric (GE) from 1981 to 2001. His approach to streamlining business efficiency and training has been applauded and criticised. However, its success for the company cannot be disputed. Every year, Welch fired the bottom 10% of managers, regardless of their performance, while rewarding the top 20% with bonuses. He removed the hierarchical management structure and brought in casual informality, mixed with competitiveness and drive. The result? GE grew from $12 billion in 1981 to over $410 billion in 2001.

Saturday morning meetings (Wal-Mart)

Sam Walton founded Wal-Mart in 1962. Wal-Mart has since grown to become the largest private company in the world, based on revenue, which was $523 billion US in 2020. Walton innovated conventional business practices in a variety of ways; however, one of his most crucial innovations was holding Saturday morning meetings with all employees. This led to a positive culture of inclusivity, where all information was shared.

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Leadership

3 effective leadership styles used in contemporary businesses

Harvey Stewart

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leadership styles

If you’ve studied any course on management theory or leadership models, then you’ll know full well that there are many different approaches to leadership. Each style is designed for different scenarios or management hierarchies; however, there is a lot of evidence to suggest that the following 3 methods are the most successful, regardless of circumstance.

Collaborative leading

Leading by collaborating with others is a handy leadership tool, one that allows you to extract the maximum value from your workers. It’s important for your workers to feel valued and appreciated. Collaborating with them directly in close-knit teams enables you to draw from meaningful insights and ideas they might have about the business’ strategic direction. The Chief Operating Officer of Facebook, Sherly Sandberg, is widely regarded as one of the most famous collaborative leaders.

Leading via consensus and democracy

The second leadership philosophy is referred to as “consensus leading”. Instead of the business leader (CEO, manager, etc.) making decisions with little input, consensus leading would see that same leader gather their teams and take a vote. Much like a democracy, the majority rules. This decision-making style is valid in terms of bolstering corporate culture and making everyone feel included; however, there are some noticeable drawbacks. What happens if you have a 51-49 split? It’s not exactly a substantial majority and moving forward with the decision could see a lot of workers distressed or disappointed.

Command, authoritative leadership

Sometimes known as an autocratic style, a commanding philosophy to leadership is the direct antithesis to the consensus style. In an authoritative management framework, teams are not consulted, and the top executives make the decisions. This can be quite toxic; however, it isn’t always negative. Some sectors and business styles require an authoritative mode of leadership. For example, military forces maintain their commitment to the chain of command, which sees a delegation of tasks and authority based on rank and posting.

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