What sets successful CEOs apart? Failure is part of the answer to that question according to the Financial Times article, “Spectacular Failures that Prime Leaders for Success“. FT columnist Andrew Hill shares that Kim Rosenkoetter Powell, Elena Lytkina Botelho and colleagues at ghSmart, an advisory group, analyzed a 10-year archive of executives’ careers and found that “virtually all CEO candidates had made material mistakes in the past”. In fact, nearly half had suffered a job-ending or enterprise-endangering catastrophe. Nearly eight out of 10 of these “failures” still went on to become chief executives. As Ms. Botelho shared, that goes against the “conventional wisdom that I have to have a pristine career record or look as though I have”.
One important distinction to make note of is that according to ghSmart research, the executives who talked about their mistakes as failures were less likely to perform strongly while those who looked for the root cause of mistakes and integrated the lessons learned into their future actions fared better.