Another One (Two) Bites the Dust!

Wounded Warrior Project parts ways with CEO & COO

“The Jacksonville-based Wounded Warrior Project abruptly parted ways Thursday with CEO Steven Nardizzi, & their long-term COO as a result of national news reports that uncovered a dramatic increase in lavish spending habits. A statement released by the board Thursday night said the organization needed new leadership to strengthen some policies and procedures while also helping to restore trust in the organization among all constituencies.”

Well, as the song goes “another one bites the dust!” Actually. In Wounded Warrior’s case, it was two who bit the dust!

When I was promoted to Senior Executive Vice President and a Member of the Office of the Chairman at USLIFE (NYSE), the ink was not yet dry on my press release when I got my first “in your face” lesson in leadership and good judgment from my best friend and closest business associate who said “Congratulations on your promotion but don’t ever believe your press release and do something stupid! You’re our leader and we are all depending on you.” At that moment, I realized that if I was going to be successful in my role as the leader, I needed to earn the trust of my team every day!

Many “former” business leaders (whose ranks jut increased by two) believed their press releases and concluded that they were “above it all” and could take certain liberties without question.

When you are in a leadership position, you have to “act” like a leader besides being called one. You need to hold yourself to higher standards than the ones you set for your team. Why? Because the most important tool a leader has is the trust and respect he” earns” from his team. A leader develops this tool through their actions and deeds as well as their words. The smallest indiscretion can be devastating to his or her ability to lead.

Some misguided leaders think that because of their “title” they are entitled to “extras”. Nothing can be further from the truth. This type of thinking (and unfortunately actions) causes damage to careers, the company that employs them and the trust followers place in their leaders. When you think you are entitled to extras, you get into trouble. Let me say that again – “when you think you are entitled to extras; you get into trouble.

Stay grounded. Understand the full scope and limits of your role. Write both down – the scope and the limits. Keep it handy. Give a copy to a trusted advisor and ask them to remind you when you exceed either. Next, make a list of all of things you are grateful for. Keep it in your pocket at all times and review when you feel tempted to do something which can only be described as colossally stupid.


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