Executive confidence is terrific; but overconfidence often accompanies lack of cooperation and unwillingness to admit failure, and it can wreak havoc in the ranks and become a fast-track to the exit ramp.
This week's executive shuffle at Apple Inc. is a case in point, but it's just one of many cases occurring worldwide in enterprises that lack the visibility of Apple.
To review, Apple's CEO Tim Cook cleaned house by replacing Apple's head of mobile software, Scott Forstall, with newly promoted execs Craig Federighi and Jony Ive. Cook also ousted the head of Apple's retail division, John Browett.
Insiders have reported that Forstall was a supremely competent executive, but he apparently had ambitions for the CEO post, based on his close relationship with the late Steve Jobs. He was feisty and uncooperative with other execs. Things came to a head when he refused to acknowledge problems with a couple of projects he directed, including iOS mapping and Siri.
Forstall isn't alone in his lack of humility -- or put another way, his refusal to admit mistakes and move on. The roster of big Internet firms is full of similar executives whose self-approval exceeds that of their CEOs and boards. Here's a sampling:
Reed Hastings. The CEO of Netflix believed so strongly that he was right to split Netflix's business in two last year that he nearly lost his company doing it. Cooler heads prevailed, and the crisis seems to have passed. For now.
It would be hard to make the accusation stick between Gary Forsee or Dan Hesse at Sprint, but the Nextel acquisition was a flop the moment Sprint allowed Nextel to push the phrase "merger of equals." Then, the move to CDMA for next generation data was cost and a time-waster.
I wonder if these mistakes by leaders is a symptom of the market, meaning they think they can push the limitations because of the product/service? For instance, the CEO of Netflix probably never thought They'd take such a huge hit.
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VMware today said it will acquire AirWatch, a vendor of enterprise mobile management and security solutions for $1.54 billion, a deal that should propel the virtualization and cloud giant into the fast-growing corporate mobility market.
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When "Bob" hired "Jim," he felt sure the new net admin would work out. After all, Jim interviewed well, had extensive experience, and seemed a great fit for the unionized company. But soon after Jim started working under "Tony," the net admin's good cheer, relaxed manner, and self-confidence disappeared and he became a nervous employee, forever on the edge, someone Tony constantly complained about to manager Bob.
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