1st Edition

Why Leaders Fail and What It Teaches Us About Leadership

By Willem Fourie Copyright 2023
    182 Pages 36 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    182 Pages 36 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    In Why Leaders Fail and What it Teaches Us About Leadership Willem Fourie helps us make sense of leaders’ failures and why our expectation of leadership infallibility is misguided

    Whereas some leadership failures can be rectified, others lead to the failure of teams, organisations or institutions. Using cutting-edge research and reflective practices, Fourie explores leaders’ failure at these personal, interpersonal, group, organisational levels and beyond. He explores five factors that cause leaders to fail:

    • Ignorance of personal weaknesses
    • Overconfidence in their influence over others
    • Destructive bias
    • Bad fit in their organisation
    • Misjudged risk

    The author shows that our heroic bias – the expectation that leaders should be exceptional, charismatic individuals with a higher level of agency than other people – in many contexts increases the chances of leaders failing. The book offers readers with the tools to understand and respond to leader failure, distilled into seven lessons for post-heroic leaders.

    This is an ideal book for students and researchers in leadership, leadership development and management as well as professionals seeking to enhance their leadership skills.

    Chapter 1: Introduction

    Chapter 2: Heroes and Failure

    Chapter 3: Leaders as Individuals: Heroic Personality Traits and Failure

    Chapter 4: Leaders and Followers: Monopolised Influence and Failure

    Chapter 5: Leaders and Groups: Destructive Bias and Failure

    Chapter 6: Leaders and the Organisation: Defective Culture and Failure

    Chapter 7: Leaders and their Environment: Misjudged Risk and Failure

    Chapter 8: Lessons for Post-Heroic Leaders (and Followers)


    Willem Fourie is Associate Professor at the Albert Luthuli Leadership Institute in the Department of Business Management at the University of Pretoria in South Africa.