On April 14, 1912, the R.M.S. Titanic collided with a massive iceberg and sank in less than three hours. At the time, more than 2200 passengers and crew were aboard the Titanic for her maiden voyage to the United States. Only 705 survived. According to the builders of the Titanic, even in the worst possible accident at sea, the ship should have stayed afloat for two to three days. Read more about the technical flaws that lead to the tragedy in this report: Causes and Effects of the Rapid Sinking of the Titanic
For the 100th Anniversary of the Titanic disaster, I invite you to think about the leadership lessons we can learn from famous failures.
Here another interesting case: On January 28, 1986 the challenger space shuttle exploded about 1 minute after launch killing all 7 astronauts on board. The shuttle exploded because two rubber O-rings leaked after losing their resiliency because the shuttle was launched on a very cold day (less than 0 Celsius). On the day before the launch the engineers who designed the rockets were opposed to launching the challenger because they were concerned that the rings would not seal at such cold temperatures but their advises were ignored by their management. This was to be the EXACT cause of the accident.
In both the Titanic and the Challenger cases, I think ultimately it was due to a lack of good leadership.
If you are a leader, then you are going to experience failure. Some failures are due to miss-judgement and turn into tragedies, others will break your reputation as you become the News headlines or you will be responsible for the loss of billions of dollars because of your arrogance.
Are you aware of your leadership flaws ? Here the most fatal flaws described by the leadership development company Zenger and Folkman in their book “The Extraordinary Leader: Turning Good Managers into Great Leaders.” :
1. Inability to learn from mistakes
2. Lack of core interpersonal skills and competencies
3. Arrogance or lack of openness to new or different ideas
4. Lack of accountability
5. Lack of initiative
To help you in your reflection you will find in this documents famous “Failures” and causes. Great tool to use for a team building exercise.