Executive Failure

Executive Failure Rates Reflect a Gap in Executive Development

Senior executive failure rates are not a secret. Popular estimates indicate between 50 and 70 percent of executives fail within the first 18 months of a promotion to an executive role. In Rising to Power, Ron Carucci and Eric Hansen from Navalent document the results of a ten year longitudinal study that included 2600 interviews with Fortune 1000 leaders.

The survey reported that 76% of respondents stated formal development processes in their companies poorly equipped leaders for transitions to levels of greater responsibility. While the dynamics and challenges of executives are distinct, 55 percent of respondents indicated they had minimal coaching and feedback to help them develop the abilities required to succeed in an executive role. Perhaps even more telling is the statistic that 45 percent of those surveyed stated they had little understanding of the challenges they would face in an executive role.

If numbers tell us anything, it appears we are expecting emerging leaders to absorb rather than develop the skills and behaviors required for effectiveness in a senior executive role. A former manager once taught me, “They don’t get if from the carpet and the drapes.”

Many companies report that succession planning is a major risk for their organizations. Firms across the country acknowledge they don’t have the talent in line to assume leadership in strategic roles. Perhaps it is time to recognize the cause of executive failure may have as much to do with preparation as with the person. When we consider investments in human capital as critical as other enterprise investments, we’ll begin to see a turnaround in the failure rate of those we send to the top.


Copyright 2015, Joseph M. Jordan/Jordan Development, Inc. Content may be shared with proper attribution.

They’re Waiting for Your Song

The audience at the Meyerson Symphony Center in Dallas on June 16, 2005 was mesmerized as 14 year-old Shannon Lee lifted a 300 year-old violin to her chin and presented two solos that were nothing short of breath-taking. While you might shudder at the thought of a teenager messing around with anything 300 years old, this diminutive virtuoso made an instrument that has survived for centuries do what a violin is designed to do—fill a concert hall with melodies that capture the heart and emotions, transporting listeners to another world.

The standing ovation that followed her performance, confirmed Miss Lee’s incredible talent. Skillfully made instruments aren’t designed to be displayed in museums or locked in an art collector’s cabinet. Even a violin that was artfully crafted three centuries ago still has music within it waiting to be shared. What about you? What music do you hold that the world needs to hear? Your music may not be written for a violin or supported by a great orchestra. It might surprise you to discover that your music is intended for a much broader audience.

Perhaps you can write a symphony of change for your industry. Maybe you hold a lyric of innovation for a company that needs to grow. Your insights might help a non-profit expand beyond its wildest expectations. Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr. said “Many people die with their music still in them. Why is this so? Too often it is because they are always getting ready to live. Before they know it, time runs out.”

Life isn’t about self-preservation, it’s about investing. The instrument of your life wasn’t created to be put on a shelf and dusted. You were placed on this planet to give voice to great ideas, to offer your melodies of creativity to those around you, to pen lyrics of opportunity that can make a difference in the world.

No one else can sing your song. There is not another person that can compose your melody for you. People need the unique work that only you can write, the distinct notes that are singularly yours. Later isn’t an option. The world is asking for your music today. Tune up. Play like there’s no tomorrow. They’re waiting for your song.