June 12, 2008

From Super Star to Shooting Star

From Super Star to Shooting Star
Not Too Long Ago -
Six months into one of investment banking's toughest jobs, the 42-year-old Ms. Callan is emerging as a galvanizing force at Lehman and a finance chief who topples much of the conventional wisdom about CFOs. She also is the highest-ranking woman on Wall Street. Many Lehman insiders consider her among the contenders to become the firm's president someday.
And Today -
Lehman Brothers Holdings has pushed out its chief financial officer, Erin Callan, and chief operating officer, Joseph Gregory, amid a persistent clamor over the company's weak performance.
The Lesson -
  • When you are in the limelight, your performance will be scrutinized. No slacking on the job allowed.

  • Beware the scapegoat syndrome. If the mob wants a head - one will be provided. Avoid being the headless one.

  • A large part of being at the top is being politically savvy (remember the scapegoat situation).

  • If you cannot delivery – you are toast. Focus on flawless execution.

  • Sometimes it is circumstantial – the wrong place, the wrong time, the wrong company. It is only sometimes and mostly avoidable.

  • Can you “wing it”? There are consequences (toast) if you mess up.

  • Always have an exit strategy (i.e. golden parachute, marketable skills, active network). This too will end.

  • Super stardom is ephemeral – enjoy it while it lasts!

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