Four Star Scandal Teaches 4 Key Business Lessons

With the abrupt exit of General Petraeus from his position as Director of the Central Intelligence Agency, Congress and the military are left with many unanswered questions.

  • A transformational military leader and architect of numerous counter-insurgency strategies that serve as fundamental military procedures, who will emerge as the next inspirational military leader and role model?
  • With hearings scheduled to learn more about the Benghazi attack, who else knows as much about the details of the attack on the U.S. Consulate in Libya?
  • Patraeus served as a mentor to numerous colleagues during his public-service career. Will any of them come forward to fill the gap his exit leaves?

These questions and many more remind forward-thinking business professionals of the importance of knowledge management and succession planning. The GU Institute offers business leaders the following four takeaways from the Patraeus news story.

When hiring top leadership positions, companies should ask: “Is this person a future CEO?”

If the answer is no, don’t hire them.  All companies should feel confident that there are one or more people who can fill top leadership roles  at any time. Not only does the ability to fill gaps provide security for the board and the marketplace, it provides confidence in the company for all employees.

Consider emotional intelligence as well as skills

All of us can recount stories of strong leaders committing violations of the code of conduct. Actually it should come as a surprise since the attributes of a leader include:

  • calculated risk taking
  • bias toward action, efficient reader of people, optimistic,
  • measured emotion and
  • being constructively tough minded.

Years ago, Peter Drucker, warned that risk-taking without self awareness and stakeholder focus would create leaders  vulnerable to mistakes and ethical missteps.

Implement on-going intellectual property back up plans

In an environment of rapid learning and daily technological advancements, business leaders can no longer run companies with the attitude: “It’s okay. I’ve got all the information in my head.”

In order to remain a competitive edge in the marketplace, companies must have a plan to retain the contributions and intellectual capital of valuable employees when they retire or move on to other endeavors.

Encourage a collaborative company culture 

Consider monthly cross-functional collaboration meetings. Implement knowledge retention teams. Promote transparency and bottom up innovation.  A collaborative environment not only enhances the ability of employees to share information, it engages employees for improved retention and helps to prevent lost time, productivity and revenue when top leaders unexpectedly leave the organization.



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