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The Dark Side of Leadership: Catastrophic Failure

Author(s): Michael Petty

Journal: Strategic Leadership Review
ISSN 2164-5108

Volume: 1;
Issue: 1;
Start page: 20;
Date: 2011;
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Keywords: Strategy | Strategic Thinking | Catastrophic Failure

Recent history provides us with numerous examples of leadership and organizational failures caused by Black Swans or Predictable Surprises. With enhanced awareness and organizational capacity, leaders will be positioned to grow and sustain their organizations in the presence of catastrophic risk. Today’s leaders are responsible not only for providing a vision of the future and the plans to achieve it, but for protecting their organizations and their followers from catastrophic failures. The recognition and fulfillment of this responsibility is of critical importance to the long-term success and viability of global leaders and their organizations. This article discusses catastrophic failure and its impact on organizations. It builds on Nicholas Taleb’s concept of the Black Swan, Max Bazerman and Michael Watkins’ concept of Predictable Surprises and Jim Collins’ Stage Three Marker of Failure – Denial of Risk and Peril. The article concludes with proposed solutions to help prevent these catastrophic failures in the future.

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