Leaders in the news

As November ends, more leadership stories fill the headlines

Marissa Mayer

In preparing posts for LWD I am detecting a reduction in fresh stories of heroic leaders.   Some years ago I could select from several available on any day of the week to discuss with my students. Now the stories more often report leaders whose actions and decisions have turned out badly.

Marissa Mayer

Among  leaders under attack is Yahoo’s Marissa Mayer who finds her turnaround plans in disarray, while facing criticism of a poor approach in dealing with employee engagement.

Lord Coe

Dick Pound of the World Anti Doping Agency (WADA) gained accolades through his hard hitting report on drug taking in sport. this including the Olympics. His meticulous work drew attention to wrong doings of athletes, state sponsored drug testing regimes, and indirectly to Lord Coe, newly-appointed head of IAAF, the ruling body of World Athletics.

Media attention was drawn to Lord Coe’s financial relationship with the sports corporation Nike, and his personal relationship with his discredited predecessor at IAAF, Lamine Diack, and the curious ‘non-bidding’ before the award of the 2021 World Athletics Championships to Eugene. Eugene is situated in Oregon – the state closely associated with Nike.


Other businesses continue to struggle accused of unethical tax avoidance strategies. Starbucks is the latest on the naughty seat this week.

Aung San Suu Kyi

Aung San Suu Kyi was nominated as political leader of the month after the triumph of her party in the Myanmar general elections. However, she is now facing scrutiny not as a distant and imprisoned symbol of hope but a flesh and blood leader facing many injustices accumulated over decades in her country.

Gary Monk

Gary Monk, manager of Swansea City seems the latest facing the hero to zero treatment, joining Jose Mourinho for poor results  few months into the Premier League 2015-16 season.

Caution, humans at work

We should be careful to distinguish between actions that turn out badly in hindsight, and attributing them to a deeply flawed or incompetent leader. In this respect, business leaders, sports coaches, and politicians are all vulnerable to losing their jobs. Some cling on longer than is welcomed by their organization or by their one time supporters. Others face over-hasty dismissal.

I would encourage more careful study to test whether a leader deserves a rapid forced exit in the search for excellence or whether there are other darker forces impacting on the process.

To be continued

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: