In their book, Firing Back: How Great Leaders Rebound after Career Disasters (Harvard Business School Press, 2007), authors Jeffrey Sonnenfeld and Andrew Ward offer practical advise and hope for fallen leaders and CEO’s. Whatever the cause of the fall there is grace and possibility to get back on your feet. Most of the time, these leaders recover and overexceed their past sucesses. The authors offer the following steps for recovery:
1. Fight, Not Flight: In responding to the setback, avoid the temptation to hide and lick your wounds. Instead, face up to the reality of the situation and distinguish those battles that need to be fought to restore reputation from those that simply drain energy and purpose.
2. Recruit Others into Battle: Friends and family can provide support and, hopefully, some much-needed perspective at this hour of need. Use your support networks while recognizing the collateral damage inflicted on these individuals as the result of your downfall.
3. Rebuild Heroic Stature: Put the event in context and provide a rational explanation to others, thus allowing the rebuilding of reputation.
4. Prove Your Mettle: After suffering career disaster, you may doubt your ability to get back to the top. Find the courage to prove to others – and yourself – that you have not lost your magic touch.
5. Rediscover the Heroic Mission: It is the single-minded pursuit of a lasting legacy that sets great leaders apart. Clear the past and chart the future by defining a new meaning for your work and life.