Finding failure's fair market value.


There is nothing scarier than failure, and for financial executives failure can often be fatal. A chief financial officer that fails to close the company books on time not only jeopardizes his or her own job, but the jobs of everyone in the organization if regulators and markets eventually turn against the company. A treasurer that fails to manage a company's cash balance correctly can put a firm into a dangerous liquidity squeeze, placing the organization's future in the hands of banks and lenders.


But anyone--even with the most minimal experience--eventually realizes that sometimes failure comes knocking on your door no matter what precautions you take. It's how you react to the situation that really counts. Can you learn from it and then adapt so your chances of long-term success improve? Can you own that failure responsibly so that it doesn't prevent you from embracing and taking the smart risks? Is there a way to get value out of failure?

In many ways this month's cover story regarding the Battle of Gettysburg and the leadership lessons is all about failure. The Union Army had gone through a series of epic failures prior to that meeting in Pennsylvania in 1863; however leaders used those past misadventures to inform their decisions without being frozen from action. The article's author, Ed Ruggero, explains in detail how financial executives can and should use that historic battlefield to create his or her own leadership roadmap.

The merger and acquisition market is generally fraught with failures, and in a feature by long-time contributor Paul Sweeney we learn that investment bankers and...

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