The CEO of Target resigned last week amid the furor over the data breach that jeopardized 40 million payment card accounts since the Black Friday shopping weekend. Gregg Steinhafel had been at Target for 35 years and has been a respected leader through some challenging times. But with the data breach issue dragging on, and impacting stock prices, he finally stepped aside. The truth is – he wasn’t a computer geek or IT guy. He didn’t design the program that caused the breach, or make any mistakes personally. However, as the leader, he took responsibility. After the crisis, it was his job to follow up, minimize the disruption, and keep the company moving forward. But as the scope of the problem became clear, it was simply too much to fix.
There’s a good lesson here: Leaders are the bottom line. Leaders are responsible. Leaders fix things.
If you’re a leader you can’t blame others, you have to step into the crisis. You may not be responsible for the problem, but you’re responsible for fixing the problem.
And when you can’t do that, it’s time to step aside, so someone else can.