There are many background similarities between Ken Lay, former CEO of Enron, and Jim Owens, former CEO of Caterpillar Inc, but how they handled mistakes was quite different. Owens achieved numerous successes in large part by learning from his own mistakes as well as the mistakes of others, In 2001 Lay attempted to hide his mistakes and those of others and as a consequence went from the top of the charts to ending as one of the most catastrophically flawed leaders in US business history.
So why is it that we don't we embrace challenges and become accepting of mistakes, learning from them and ultimately growing from them? And if learning from mistakes has so much value, why is it taboo to even talk about mistakes in the context of business and leadership? The answers aren't hard to find.