Summary of Why CEOs Fail

The 11 Behaviors That Can Derail Your Climb to the Top and How to Manage Them

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Why CEOs Fail book summary
Arrogance, aloofness, volatility – these personality flaws and their ilk are guaranteed to end your career as a leader.


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If you wonder why all those superstar CEOs suddenly veered off course, executive coaches David L. Dotlich and Peter C. Cairo offer an engaging work of psychoanalysis to answer your question. Leadership failures can result from 11 character traits, either deep-seated personality faults or qualities that once were beneficial but became problematic. The authors offer recognizable case studies and specific advice to bolster their case that these flaws derail leaders. The culprit characteristics can seem a bit general, an inevitable concern in a book seeking simple explanations for human folly. recommends this easy-to-digest volume to leaders and those who endure them. This is just the ticket for bosses who want to address their possible personality pitfalls before they commit career suicide.

In this summary, you will learn

  • Which 11 personality flaws can derail your career
  • How to identify these weaknesses in yourself
  • How to overcome these flaws


The Eleven Ways to Wreck Your Career
Leading an organization is increasingly challenging and complex. It’s so difficult that some two-thirds of CEOs fall short. They fail in spite of hard work and sterling intentions. These ambitious, competent people wind up fired, demoted or stripped...
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About the Authors

Executive coaches David L. Dotlich, Ph.D., and Peter C. Cairo, Ph.D., are partners in CDR International. Dotlich is a former executive vice president of two corporations. Cairo is on the faculty of the Columbia University Business School. Dotlich and Cairo are the co-authors of Action Coaching and Unnatural Leadership: Going Against Intuition and Experience to Develop Ten New Leadership Instincts.

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