Wednesday 17 February 2016

Getting fired is GOOD for Leaders

It’s strange the things that trigger your ideas and attitudes about leaders. I'd just been on a train to Paris, catching up on a month’s worth of reading (I’m the kind of guy who tears out pages from business mags and newspapers and squirrels them  away to catch up when I have the time). It’s messy, totally non-digital, deeply uncool, but it works for me. Often some of my best ideas come from reading some ink-smudged newspaper clipping months out of date.

In the midst of rapidly skimming through 30 or 40 pieces I’d collected, I was suddenly struck by one thing. Most of what I was reading was about failure, specifically CEOs who’d crashed and burned - usually taking a large slice of that year’s profits in severance settlements with them. “My goodness,” I thought, “there’s an epidemic out here. It’ worse than top-of-the-league soccer managers. CEOs are getting it from all sides, are we learning nothing about squandering all this talent? ”

I was still musing on this accident-prone CEO syndrome when I arrived to meet a client. Well, not a client actually, but hopefully soon to be one. I’ve known him for years. He’s just arrived into the hot seat of a large transportation firm. Lucky to be there, I thought, got fired about six months ago. Messy corporate divorce, but he looks OK – confidently exuding the air of man in charge of his personal destiny.
We shook hands, and I sat down across from his aircraft carrier-sized stripped pine desk. As I opened my folder, all my carefully hoarded clippings I’d been reading on the train, spilled, embarrassingly, to the floor.

“What’s that?” asked my host.

I quickly explained my dinosaur-like way of staying in tune with the times. As it was a very informal meeting, and I’d met him before, I also wished him luck in his new role, boldly referring to his last job and how I hoped it would work out well. He smiled at me. “Well after these last months, I reckon it’s not going to be too bad, at least I know how to play the game now.” He added, “You see I’m qualified. Got the t-shirt, been there done that. “
My host, then went onto describe in fascinating detail how he lost his job, how the forces massed against him had combined to bring him down. Over the next 30 minutes he itemized in detail what had happened, what he learned from each twist and turn and how he had got out clean, certainly richer but a whole lot wiser as well. By the end of it he had come across as a very professional operator, one I’d be happy to vouch for as a man who’d keep his head in any crisis that came along.

Finally, he sat back in his chair and said, “ So you see Rudi, getting fired taught me all I needed to know, to stay on top- it’s been my finishing school my post graduate business degree.  I’ve an MBA from the best school money can buy, a stellar track record, but now I know how to play the game better than anyone else.” He went on, “I Can deal with boards, investors, analysts, the media, over-ambitious lieutenants. None of them concerns me now. Quite frankly, you can’t be a real leader unless you know how to recognize and deal with all those things happening to you every day. Now I know how to build loyalty in my team   (I was just too busy before); avoid the sniping of the financial analysts (never bothered to take them seriously – now I do); ignored the media (I make sure I’m seen, heard and my image is polished like the brass plaque outside our HQ).”

Was taken aback by his words, and his enthusiasm, “ So what about the caring leader,” I asked, “ is it all just a fiction; are we led to believe that a CEO who takes care of his people is THE real leadership model we  should aspire too? “
He stared at me for a good 20 seconds, saying nothing. Then he smiled and finally said, “That’s what the book says that’s what all the management courses preach, but that isn’t real-life. Quite frankly, the reason I’m worth this huge salary they’re paying me is for one thing. I’ve been fired – I survived and I learnt all the lessons better than anyone else.  I have been shot at but now I’m bullet-proof Now when I come to choose my successor I know  where I’ll be looking. “

He got up to leave, shook my hand warmly and opened the door for me. “Walk you down to reception,” he said, got to do my daily tour, keep the people pleased by knowing I look pleased too.”
So is it true, can you really get better as a leader by experiencing the seamy side of corporate existence? My betting is my new friend – and he’s a new client now - has got it right. So, go get fired, learn from it and be the leader you should have been all along!

This column on leadership and organizational development is written exclusively for the IEDP by Rudi Plettinx, Managing Director of Management Centre Europe, the Brussels-based development organization. Have a comment or a question? Connect with him via Linkedin. 


  1. Responsibility is that feature which will make you a true leader. I pointed at that in my review on the book about leadership.

  2. Struggling to get used to the sheer volume of college assignments? To make it easier, there is a site and this is by far the best assistant on the Internet.

  3. Hmm, I think failures teach you a lot – and that is true for leaders as well. I have been trying to find a website where I could Buy Business Management Dissertation but I was unable to find it. And upon failing to find a website, I learned how to write a dissertation myself. So yeah, it’s a part of the process.

  4. In my point of view getting fired at any point or at any level is not good for anyone. Because it creates a bad impact not just professionally but also mentally. However, resigning instead of wasting your talent at bad place is good. Like I use to work in a bad organization from where I have resigned and started providing custom law assignment writing service to students and earned a lot of love and respect for my work.

  5. A good leader can change your life because some people follow bad leaders and face issues because their leaders are unable to help their followers. I hope, people will make a good decision and follow expert leader and get success in their lives. Dissertation proposal writing service.

  6. mathematical abilities that are a sure prerequisite for the fact that in the future the free first grade math games child will not only understand mathematics well, but also succeed in other school disciplines. Next in importance for contributing to academic success are reading skills and the ability to manage one's attention.

  7. Leadership is important for the success of a business, business owners need to become leaders rather than becoming bosses. I learned this when I searched for cheap dissertation help USA and I was amazed to see the agency owner helped me with his qualified writers.

  8. To write a master's thesis, we will select a performer with special skills. We employ candidates and doctors of sciences, with extensive experience in scientific work for students. You can choose an artist yourself. The company has read here more than three thousand highly rated authors who approach each task responsibly

  9. I am very happy to say that this is an interesting post. I learned new information from your article, you are doing a great job. Thanks for sharing this kind of blog. Now it's time to avail party bus dc for more information.

  10. In my point of view getting fired at any point or at any level is not good for anyone. Because it creates a bad impact not just professionally but also mentally. However if you are looking tips to write a research paper then I have a whole article about this. Visit my website for more details.

  11. It's intriguing how inspiration can strike unexpectedly, isn't it? We all have unique ways of gathering ideas, and for me, it's through old-fashioned reading. As I immerse myself in various subjects, like leadership, I continue to explore new perspectives. If you require Master Thesis Writing Help In US, I'd be more than happy to provide help and guidance. Just let me know how I can assist you with your journey.

  12. This comment has been removed by the author.

  13. MCE" could have various meanings based on context. In computing, it might refer to Microsoft Certified Educator, a certification program. In energy, MCE could stand for Marin Clean Energy, a community choice aggregator in California. Please provide additional details for a more accurate definition.
    personal injury lawyer virginia beach
    contract dispute lawyer

  14. The article dives into leadership and the impact of getting fired, not directly mentioning Art Full Illustrations
    . It focuses on the potential benefits a leader can gain from such an experience.