In Why Leaders Fail and What it Teaches Us About Leadership Willem Fourie helps us make sense of leaders’ failures and why our expectation of leadership infallibility is misguided

Whereas some leadership failures can be rectified, others lead to the failure of teams, organisations or institutions. Using cutting-edge research and reflective practices, Fourie explores leaders’ failure at these personal, interpersonal, group, organisational levels and beyond. He explores five factors that cause leaders to fail:

  • Ignorance of personal weaknesses
  • The pretence that they know everything
  • Overconfidence in their influence over others
  • Destructive bias
  • Bad fit in their organisation

The author shows that our heroic bias – the expectation that leaders should be exceptional, charismatic individuals with a higher level of agency than other people – in many contexts increases the chances of leaders failing. The book offers readers with the tools to understand and respond to leader failure, distilled into seven lessons for post-heroic leaders.

This is an ideal book for students and researchers in leadership, leadership development and management as well as professionals seeking to enhance their leadership skills.

Chapter 1: Introduction

Chapter 2: Heroes and Failure

Chapter 3: Leaders as Individuals: Heroic Personality Traits and Failure

Chapter 4: Leaders and Followers: Monopolised Influence and Failure

Chapter 5: Leaders and Groups: Destructive Bias and Failure

Chapter 6: Leaders and the Organisation: Defective Culture and Failure

Chapter 7: Leaders and their Environment: Misjudged Risk and Failure

Chapter 8: Lessons for Post-Heroic Leaders (and Followers)