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Uber's Primary Failure

The slow death of multi-dimensional leadership

In the business community, we too often measure leadership in strictly financial terms.

When a company is public, leaders are expected to increase the stock price and return the almighty dividend. When a company is private, leaders are expected to deliver almighty growth (up and to the right!). Anything else — essential issues like culture, hard R&D, and workforce training — is a lesser priority for business chieftains.

In her great book, Makers and Takers, Financial Times columnist Rana Foroohar calls this the “financialization” of American industry.

If a financial wizard can make the numbers sing, who cares about the difficult tasks of aligning mission and personnel, the health of the workforce, or patient long-term planning and execution?

The most damaging legacy of financialization is the slow death of multi-dimensional leadership, a topic we will explore, over time, in some depth.

Nevertheless, Uber is such a poorly run company.

Uber disclosed Tuesday that hackers had stolen 57 million driver and rider accounts and that the company had kept the data breach secret for more than a year after paying a $100,000 ransom.

The deal was arranged by the company’s chief security officer and under the watch of the former chief executive, Travis Kalanick, according to several current and former employees who spoke on the condition of anonymity because the details were private.