I predicted Uber was heading for a crash, and it happened. As you’ve probably heard by now, Uber’s founder and CEO Travis Kalanick was asked by his board to step aside. Frankly, I’m surprised he lasted as long as he did, given the claims of a sexually-charged work environment, sexual harassment, discrimination, and pushing the envelope in dealing with law enforcement. There’s probably more questionable behavior going on there that we don’t even know about.
There are plenty of lessons to be learned from the rapid ascent and descent of Uber. Here’s what leaders and companies can do to avoid a similar fate.
Where there is smoke, there is fire.
Take all charges of sexual harassment and workplace discrimination seriously. Let’s get real here. I’ve seen too many executives look the other way the moment a rainmaker or key executive is accused of inappropriate behavior. Take any and all accusations of this nature seriously. Hire someone from the outside to conduct an investigation so you can quickly determine how to best proceed. The key word here is quickly, as these situations never go away on their own.
The board at Uber should have removed Kalanick after the first implosion. However, I can understand why they gave him a second chance. After all, none of us are perfect. But what prevailed after that was a travesty. A ton of time, money, energy, etc. was expended, as one explosion followed another.
Uber has lots of cash to burn. Are you in a similar cash position? Probably not; yet, I bet there’s a least one person on your team right now who, like Kalanick, should have been gone a long time ago. Can you really afford to keep people on who aren’t adding value or may be damaging your brand? Let today be the day you take action. Ready, aim, fire.
Make a clean break.
It’s going to be a long time before Uber recovers from the wreck that’s been left behind by Travis Kalanick. Although he’s no longer leading from the top, he’s now driving the company from the back seat, as he is still on the board. And we all know how dangerous backseat drivers can be! The board will need to pull over to the curb and let Kalanick out if they ever expect the company to take the IPO route.
If you’re going to release someone, then let him or her go. Letting this person hang around will do more damage than good.
Be very careful whom you let into management.
Everything that went wrong at Uber happened because of lack of leadership. You have to have the right people with the right traits and skills in place to run a successful company that can stand the test of time.
As of today, at least twenty leaders at Uber have been let go or asked to resign. Surely you can do better than Uber when it comes to selecting and promoting leaders. If you need help, just ask and I’ll set aside thirty minutes for a complimentary call. That’s how important hiring the right people is to your business.