Lance Armstrong's Leadership Mistakes

January 28, 2013 -- Sal Silvester

The hype around Lance Armstrong's confession of using banned substances brings up two leadership issues for me.

Leadership Issue #1: Winning at All Costs

First of all, it makes me wonder what people will do to win and if winning at all costs is worth winning winning at all. If you worked in an industry where you were required to do something illegal - would you continue working in that industry? If you couldn't succeed in your job if you didn't do something immoral - would you continue in that role? How about when it comes to identifying, grooming, and selecting your next generation of leaders - do you want people who will win at all costs? What if you have a "good producer" but they infest others like a disease along the way (like Lance)? Is it worth the impact to your organizational culture? In the end, the ego-centric team member/leader who is solely out for himself doesn't produce long-term, sustainable greatness for an organization.

Leadership Issue #2: To Er is Human

People who readily own-up to their mistakes are also more trustworthy. And, by the way, the human race has a deep reservoir of forgiveness. The thing is…it takes humility to admit imperfection. And it's misguided advice to tell leaders not to show their weaknesses. Lance's downfall wasn't because he used EPO, testosterone, and had blood transfusions.  It was his arrogance and inflated ego that pushed him to perpetuate his lie and take others down along the way.

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