Edited by Mitchell G. Rothstein and Ronald J. Burke
Chapter 13: Resilience and Leadership: The Self-Management of Failure
Gillian A. King and Mitchell G. Rothstein SITUATIONS WHERE MANAGERS EXPERIENCE DISTRESS Matt couldn’t believe what had happened. After 21 years of delivering results, receiving regular promotions, and displaying loyalty to his company, Henry, who was the CEO and Matt’s boss and mentor for all these years, had called Matt out of a meeting with his management team and fired him with no warning. Matt had never received any negative performance feedback from Henry – only praise for achieving results, more responsibility, more money and more promotions. Henry would not give a specific reason for Matt’s dismissal, only that there was no longer a good fit for Matt and the company. Matt had been led to believe he was the next CEO, but in an instant his career and ambitions were shattered. He was filled with emotions – anger, resentment, suspicion and confusion; what was he going to do now (Mikalachki, 1994)? There are many reasons why leaders’ careers derail. The most common reasons include problems with interpersonal relationships, failure to meet business objectives, failure to build and lead a team, and inability to change or adapt during a transition (e.g., Van Velsor and Leslie, 1995). Matt’s experience is not uncommon in the career of a leader. Leaders often experience a variety of adverse events that they may interpret as failure or inadequacy. In addition to getting fired, leaders may be passed over for promotion by a rival, be held responsible for the loss of a major customer to the competition, be...
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