Self-delusion will sink Sepp Blatter just as it sank Dick Fuld. (2015)
“(The) self-delusion that plagues Dick Fuld and Sepp Blatter is the signature trait of overreaching leaders and a clear signal of potential disaster ahead
ft.com/management, 1 June 2015
“So here is Dick Fuld, former head of Lehman Brothers, in his first voluntary public appearance since its collapse, explaining last week why the bank went down in 2008: “It isn’t just one single thing, it’s all these things taken together: I refer to it as a perfect storm.” And here is Sepp Blatter, Fifa president, as he prepared the way for his re-election at football’s governing body in Switzerland. Last week’s arrests of Fifa officials, he told delegates, “unleashed a real storm”.
“The image of navigating through a tempest… is popular with controversial leaders, for good reason. Instead of having to admit they are a fool, who had no idea what was going on, or a knave who fostered the scandal.. they can look like hard-bitten captains on the bridge, braced against the monstrous waves and wrestling with the wheel, while the elements conspire against them.
“But there is something more corrosive than leaders lying to the outside world and that is leaders deceiving themselves…..
“Self-belief is a vital part of being an effective leader. Admitting to weakness is taboo. But it is easy for leaders to become overconfident and to start governing just by asserting the facts as they understand them and ignoring others’ legitimate concerns.
“…Hank Paulson, former US Treasury secretary, told the Lehman bankruptcy examiner that Mr Fuld was “a person who heard only what he wanted to hear”. Such self-delusion also plagues Mr Blatter. It is the signature trait of overreaching leaders and a clear signal of potential disaster ahead.”
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