A few weeks ago I was invited to Holambra near Sao Paulo. Many IMO colleagues have been there already. And locally, there is a strong group of IMO consultants working together and with clients already since years. I was asked to moderate one day which had the title: Master Deepening, and two more days as part of the local IMO Masterclass. Between 15 and 20 people attended.

One of the themes we discussed was Why Smart CEO’s Fail. During my many years of financing companies and initiatives I could take note of things that work and behaviors that hinder success. Often leadership teams go through a crisis, manage it successfully, learn from it, and continue their way to success. In that way the title is meant. It helps to think in terms of potential failure, because then we reflect about concrete cases - and we make it personal: it is me who determines success or failure. If we would only speak about how things should be in the ideal case, it would immediately be abstract and we would be finished fast.

Here are some of the traits we discussed: grow too fast and loose identity; poor execution (70% of businesses fail because of that reason); poor cash management; no succession; not like to listen to bad news; underestimate competition; no plan B; not in touch with customers; dominate your team; rely too much on what worked in the past; inaccurate view of reality; no focus; too easy diversify; isolate yourself; not enough time to think and reflect; too little sleep.

We did a process that we wrote all those 22 traits on cards and gave each group a few of those cards. Then each group had to work with their traits and discuss them in the group. In the plenum afterwards we heard all comments related to those 22 traits and had very interesting reflections and exchange of experiences about them. In that way we learned from each other and it worked very nice. A big thank you to the colleagues in Holambra!

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