Lest you think I am making an unequal comparison, let me remind of you of Machiavelli who said in The Prince, “And it ought to be remembered that there is nothing more difficult to take in hand, more perilous to conduct, or more uncertain in its success, than to take the lead in the introduction of a new order of things.”
Of course, turnaround leaders are not likely to actually die, but they may experience the death of their careers. Yes, being a turnaround leader is that dangerous to one’s career, which is why so few willingly accept such assignments. It is also why so many careers have been either damaged or destroyed as a result.
All that being said however, I personally am still drawn to turnaround leadership. It has been my life’s work to rebuild worthy organizations that have stumbled, but which have enormous potential to return to greatness and thereby significantly make this a better world. I have spent years researching the nature of turnarounds and their leaders to try to understand, to find patterns, insights, and resources to launch more turnaround leaders. In all this one truth shines through everything: turnaround leadership is dangerous and should not be undertaken lightly.
My advice to you who lead: carefully, even prayerfully, assess whether you are up to the task of being a turnaround leader. If you are, whether voluntarily or involuntarily, in a position where you are called upon to lead a turnaround, my singular advice to you is to seek out an expert coach in this field. Leading a turnaround is unlike any other successful leadership endeavor. And . . . it is far more dangerous!
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