Imagine for a moment you are about to take on a new leadership role. You are full of energy and ready for the challenge. You are brimming with confidence, excited about the new title, increased compensation, and extra perks you will receive.
Now, just before you start your new role, you and I have a conversation. In that discussion, I tell you that within the first year of your new job you will experience a significant crisis. News will break revealing that one of your company's products is faulty and responsible for the death of more than 100 people and the serious injuries of even more.
As a result, you and your company will experience a firestorm of harsh criticism from the media and the public. Your every word and move will be scrutinized on the nightly news. Within months, you will be testifying in front of the Senate, as your company is eviscerated in a hearing on Capitol Hill.
If I told you that all those things would happen, would you still take on your new leadership role? Would you be as excited and as confident?
This is exactly what happened to Mary Barra, the chief executive officer (CEO) of General Motors (GM). Barra was appointed to her new role in December of 2013. When news of her appointment first broke, most of the media focused on the fact of her gender. Choosing a female CEO was undeniably a great step forward for GM and for corporations around the world. It was great for Barra, who over a 33-year career at GM, held ...