[October 12, 2017] Learning from the successes of great leaders is something all leaders should strive to do. But the lessons we get from those leaders who fail is truly beneficial to our leadership development. Can leaders learn from the recently revealed Harvey Weinstein scandal by seeing what went wrong and why?
The answer should be self evident. Of course, leaders can learn valuable lessons from any such tragedy. It should be remembered throughout this post that Harvey Weinstein, an American movie producer and studio executive, has been enormously successful in his career and has built a powerful reputation for garnering important roles for film stars. He has also been active in social issues such as poverty, AIDS, juvenile diabetes, and multiple sclerosis.
With high-profile allegations into sexual misconduct, the focus here today will be on his failures. While his successes could also offer enormous value for those studying leadership, his failures are more recent and continue to surprise and disgust us at the same time. That is where lessons in leadership can gain some value.
Here are five things Harvey Weinstein’s failure can teach those of us interested in leadership and make us a better person:
- Power can be used for good or for evil. We all should remember that greatness does not lie in wealth or power but in one’s character. Power enhances our character traits so that those who have a weak foundation in moral values will do bad things. While I don’t know Harvey Weinstein, there are those who have accused him of predatory behavior because he believed, being a powerful person in Hollywood, that he was above the law.
- Surround yourself with good people. When we surround ourselves with those of questionable character we can no longer expect anyone to be a check on our behavior. Weinstein surrounded himself with those who were unwilling to speak out despite knowing full well that what he was doing was clearly unethical, immoral, and likely illegal. Others have called Hollywood an unethical echo chamber full of those who would never challenge those in power.
- Take stock in your family and religion. The most important things in our lives should always be our family and our faith. Religions are based on moral principles that work and morality works for leaders in any environment. If we begin to stray from good, there will be those from our family and faith network who are there to help pull us back.
- Have a tough skin; be resilient and gutsy. If there is one thing we can say unequivocally about Weinstein it is that he is a gutsy kind of guy. He’s also tough, resilient, passionate, well-connected, and perpetually optimistic; the same traits we want to see in a successful leader. Those traits will stead him over these next few weeks when it will be the hardest on him.
- Admit your failures. Weinstein also needs to be practical enough to admit his failures openly, learn from them, promise not to make the same mistakes, and mean it. That is the only back from the abyss he has created.
Failure is the most powerful source for know-how and understanding. It teaches leaders about what they are doing wrong, that persistence, dedication, and hard work eventually will pay off, and that failure can be used to get back on track and in the game of doing good. Harvey Weinstein can bounce back only if he wants it bad enough.
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