Last week, we talked about how leaders can help employees when they fail. Let’s focus on the reasons behind failure for leaders.

The number is pretty sobering. Research indicates that 50% of leaders who were initially successful in a job will be fired.

It turns out the two most common reasons people believe this happens can’t account for this.

Myth: Personality Issues — So many of us seem to have worked with narcissistic or inflexible bosses that we think this is why leaders get fired. They didn’t have the right personality for the job. Not so! (I guess that’s why there are so many still out there …)

Another big contributor to this myth is attribution bias. We believe when others fail, it’s because of a flaw in their personality or how they act. In other words, they deserved this! (When it comes to us, however, we think outside forces conspired to prevent our success.)

Myth: Poor Performance — We’ve all heard of or experienced the Peter Principle: competent people are promoted until they become incompetent in their jobs, and then they stay there (inflicting pain on the rest of us). While that happens, something else a little more insidious also is going on.

This is called upward trajectory. It’s not enough for leaders to be consistently competent. We want them to continue outperforming others as they rise through the ranks. Of course, this means they’re working with new teams or implementing new strategies. It can take time to adjust to this. And if they aren’t doing better than everyone else all the time — as they have in the past — then they must be failing.

Here are three things you can do to reduce the leadership failure rate in your organization — or that you as a leader should ask for to continue your success.



Let’s face it. Nearly 3 million women lost or left their jobs in 2020. It can’t be because they all had lousy personalities and performed poorly.

Use the three tips in this video to ask for what you need to be a successful leader — before people mistakenly perceive that you’re not and consider turning you into a statistic!