Soundview Executive Book Summaries


Can You Learn from the Lessons of Lehman?

The headlines piled up on many a news Web site today about the findings of a bankruptcy court-appointed examiner in the case against Lehman Brothers Holdings. Lehman’s bankruptcy filing in September 2008 remains the largest in the history of the United States. The examiner, while not capable of filing charges, provided information about Lehman’s C-level executive team that some reports say could be incriminating.

Among those mentioned in the 2,200-page report is former Lehman CEO Richard Fuld. The man once dubbed the “Wall Street Brawler” had a career with Lehman that spanned nearly four decades. The court examiner’s report claims evidence of a breach of fiduciary duty by Fuld. He is alleged to have misled investors and permitted continued financial practices that were deemed dangerous to the organization, its shareholders and the economy.

You’ll be hearing more about Richard Fuld over the next few weeks. Soundview is now offering a summary of Tim Irwin’s book Derailed: Five Lessons Learned From Catastrophic Failures of Leadership. Fuld plays a prominent role in Irwin’s examination of six executives whose tragic character flaws led their companies jump the rails. Derailed is a must-read summary and I’m very excited to see it appear in our April 2010 edition.

Our summary of Irwin’s book provides some excellent advice to help executives steer clear of the destructive workplace behavior that left Lehman (and the economy) reeling. As Irwin indicates, his book may profile executives who exhibited bad behavior, but it’s really meant to be a cautionary tale to prevent us from going down the same path.

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