It was failing. There was no doubt that the huge risk taken by the CEO was not going to pay off. The lost resources financially, in personnel, and in production time, were large. With the project spiraling downward, all eyes were on this CEO. How he chose to handle this difficult situation would go a long way toward defining his legacy as a leader with the company.
Here's what he did:
Owned It – This leader did blame others but admitted that his project had failed. He took responsibility and recognized the loss.
Created Clarity – He communicated to the entire team that while the project was not successful, the philosophy of taking calculated risks would continue to be a part of the company's growth strategy.
Showed Class – He did not pout, or become negative or critical. Instead, he remained positive and focused on the future. This executive refused to allow a set back to cause him to lose focus of the overall vision and mission of the organization.
I observed this process first hand, walking with this leader and his organization during this difficult time. The result of his strong and wise leadership, along with hard work, was record growth over the next year. This failed project did not derail the company, but spurred the team to achieve great things.
Leaders who navigate loss with class and honesty are leaders who will make a difference.