Here is an excerpt from article written by Rosabeth Moss Kanter for the Harvard Business Review blog. To read the complete article, check out other articles and resources, and/or sign up for a free subscription to Harvard Business Review’s Daily Alerts, please visit http://blogs.hbr.org/.
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BP doesn’t need an engineer at the helm. It needs a leader.
Of course engineers matter, when the task is stemming damage from the largest oil spill in U.S. history. BP needs all the talent it can get. Scientists, engineers, and technicians, including the 2500 BOP employees sent to the Gulf from all over the world, have a critical role to play in cleaning up the environmental mess.
But BP must also clean up an organizational and cultural mess. The company needs a leader who engenders confidence. CEO Tony Hayward has had over six weeks in the spotlight to demonstrate his leadership capabilities. Yet the situation keeps getting worse: escalating damage in the Gulf and a whopping 35% drop in BP’s stock price.
A true leader faces facts, presents a situation fully to all stakeholders, and models accountability. A leader does not attempt to minimize the extent of a problem or promise action faster than can be delivered. A true leader sets appropriate expectations and delivers. He or she does not duck responsibility by shifting the bulk of the blame to someone else.
About a week after the April 20 explosion, Hayward was quoted in the New York Times as asking his executive team, “What the hell did we do to deserve this?” Recently, he declared that “I want my life back.”
Mr. Hayward, it’s not about you. The only consideration should be what’s best for the institution and its stakeholders. Eleven workers are dead, and damage to the ecosystem and coastal livelihoods are incalculable. Tony Hayward’s actions have not been responsive, and when that happens, a manager is dispensable. He can’t be the only person who can run the company during this crisis — which means that BP has even more BP (big problems) ahead.
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To read the complete article, check out other articles and resources, and/or sign up for a free subscription to Harvard Business Review’s Daily Alerts, please visit http://blogs.hbr.org/.
Rosabeth Moss Kanter is a professor at Harvard Business School and the author of Confidence and SuperCorp. Connect with her on Facebook or at Twitter.com/RosabethKanter.