Leadership Fails

Stories abound lately of epic leadership failures that merit review and consideration to learn how to avoid them in any workplace.


If a tangible example of the failure of leadership and the resulting dishonest workplace culture ever existed, this is it: a newspaper photo of thousands of cars parked in neat rows with the headline “Volkswagen buyback cars await fate beside Southern Colorado racetrack”*. Since the Volkswagen emissions tampering debacle surfaced in 2015, over 275,000 cars have been purchased back by VW and are being stored at various sites around the country. Repairing and reselling the recalled cars may prove too costly and thus thousands will be scrapped and some of the materials and recycled. Imagine the countless hours of wasted employee time as a result of dishonest leadership. The court-imposed costs to VW alone exceed $15 billion.


Uber* quickly grew into a global empire with a market valuation of $70 billion, yet a culture of disrespect that resulted from poor leadership is undermining that success. Leadership allowed a workplace culture to develop that was rife with disrespectful behaviors at many levels: employees claim sexual harassment and discrimination, contract drivers complain of mistreatment, government officials investigate flagrant legal violations. This litany of leadership failures has resulted in the company being publicly embarrassed, numerous costly lawsuits, unwanted investigations, punitive regulatory measures, leadership turnover, poor employee morale, and possible loss of public confidence and market share.


Since 2016, several Flint, Michigan, officials have been fired and charged with mismanagement that resulted in harm to residents who unknowingly consumed lead-contaminated water. Now two state-level public officials face manslaughter charges in the deaths of 12 residents; they are accused of not notifying the public of water contaminated with Legionnaire’s disease and taking necessary actions to protect public health*. Beyond the loss of public confidence, these allegations reveal the most extreme consequence of leadership failure: deaths of innocent people.

Lessons learned:

  • Leadership sets the tone for organizational culture.
  • Failed leadership fosters dysfunctional workplace cultures that can be ruinous.

Leaders are not born – they are created and can be improved with concerted efforts. MSEC offers a variety of opportunities for Leadership development at all levels, from individual coaching to academies and classes, and team workshops.  Invest today to build effective Leadership that supports a healthy workplace culture that fosters employee and customer welfare, innovation and success.