'Why Smart Executives Fail' by: Sydney Finkelstein
‘Why Smart Executives Fail’ by: Sydney Finkelstein

Sydney Finkelstein – Steven Roth Professor of Management at Dartmouth, author, expert on strategy and leadership.

Businesses fail all the time.  Such is the nature of the beast.  It’s survival of the fittest, healthy competition, may the best man win.  So you would think, when the cream rises to the top and a company takes over the thrown, it’s going to stay there a while.  The rationale goes, whoever led you to the mountain top, can easily keep you there.  All-star executive teams are put in place and every guru, ninja, and consultant is at your disposal.  The logic seems sound to me.  But if this were the case, why is it that so many companies fall so far, so fast? At an alarming rate, a company will be anointed the golden child of an industry one year, and the laughing stock the next.  What gives? It turns out that success may in fact “go to your head” (cough…Tiger Woods…cough… Petraeus…Clinton…Armstrong). But we aren’t here to pick on athletes and politicians – we already knew those guys are all messed up.  We are talking about big time execs such as Jill Barred at Mattel, Dennis Kozlowski at Tyco, Jean Marie Messier at Vivendi, Robert Pitman at AOL Time Warner, Wolfgang Schmitt at Rubbermaid, and yes, Mark Zuckerberg of the evil empire (be sure to check us out on Facebook though!).

Our guest this week is Dr. Sydney Finkelstein, author of the bestselling book, Why Smart Executives Fail: And What You Can Learn from Their Mistakes.  Our conversation with Dr. Finkelstein revolves a lot around what makes a great executive, what makes those same executives fail miserably, and how can we prevent these mistakes in our own lives.  There are definitely patterns of behavior that you want to steer clear of, especially if you see them at a company you are considering working for. Plus, there’s nothing more fun them some good old fashion hater-aid on rich, old, white guys running companies!

Dr. Finkelstein is a true genius in his own right.  He is the Steven Roth Professor of Management at the Tuck School of Business at Dartmouth. He teaches executive education and serves as the Faculty Director of the flagship Tuck Executive Program. He holds degrees from Concordia University and the London School of Economics, as well as a Ph.D. from Columbia University in strategic management.  Professor Finkelstein has published 11 books and over 60 articles.