The Seven Habits of Spectacularly Unsuccessful Executives

The Seven Habits of Spectacularly Unsuccessful Executives:

Sydney Finkelstein, the Steven Roth Professor of Management at the Tuck School of Business at Dartmouth College, published “Why Smart Executives Fail” 8 years ago.

In it, he shared some of his research on what over 50 former high-flying companies – like Enron, Tyco, WorldCom, Rubbermaid, and Schwinn – did to become complete failures. It turns out that the senior executives at the companies all had 7 Habits in common. Finkelstein calls them the Seven Habits of Spectacularly Unsuccessful Executives.

These traits can be found in the leaders of current failures like Research In Motion (RIMM), but they should be early-warning signs (cautionary tales) to currently unbeatable firms like Apple (AAPL), Google (GOOG), and Amazon.com (AMZN). Here are the habits, as Finkelstein described in a 2004 article:

Habit # 1: They see themselves and their companies as dominating their environment

Habit #2: They identify so completely with the company that there is no clear boundary between their personal interests and their corporation’s interests

Habit #3: They think they have all the answers

Habit #4: They ruthlessly eliminate anyone who isn’t completely behind them

Habit #5: They are consummate spokespersons, obsessed with the company image

Habit #6: They underestimate obstacles

Habit #7: They stubbornly rely on what worked for them in the past

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