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Atlanta bosses recount their biggest career mistakes


Sometimes it’s nice to be reminded that we’ve all made mistakes, including our bosses. Even Atlanta’s most successful leaders have committed their fair share of corporate blunders. Read on and take notes as these ATL power players recount some of their biggest career mishaps from the AJC's 5 Questions for the Boss feature.  

»RELATED: AJC Top workplaces in Atlanta 2017

1.  Failing to set clear expectations

Focusing on your employees' skillsets and setting clear expectations were key lessons for Dr. Helene Gayle, the CEO of the McKinsey Social Initiative, a nonprofit dedicated to addressing complex global changes.

"I've learned a lot more about giving a clear sense of what the expectations are and then holding people accountable by measuring their effectiveness,” the former CEO of CARE said. 

»RELATED: Are these mistakes keeping you from landing the job?

2. Forgetting to proofread

When Dave Fitzgerald began his career in the ad business, he made a pricey mistake that he's never forgotten.

“I had to spend $75,000 to reprint a brochure that had a typo in it,” Fitzgerald remembered, who served as CEO of Fitzgerald and Co. for more than 40 years before advancing to chairman in June 2015. Since making this mistake, Fitzgerald said he has become “the best proofreader in the history of proofreading."

"It’s very important to pay attention to detail." he added. "Not doing that will kill you in this business.”

3.  Mismanagement

Finding an effective management style that doesn’t stifle creativity or permit disorganized chaos is a challenge. Mizuo USA Inc.'s CEO Bob Puccini would agree. 

“I was too rigid as a manager early on,” Puccini reflected. “My expectations were that you should do what I did.”  The head honcho of the sports distribution company quickly learned his employees couldn’t flourish under this rigid management model. “Everyone’s not like me. There has to be a tolerance for different styles and paths, and people who can complement what you can do," he said.

4. Not listening to employees

Anne-Marie Campbell channeled her tenacity to climb Home Depot's corporate ladder and transition from part-time cashier to executive vice president of the home improvement retailer. However, as she shifted into management roles, she said she placed “unreasonable expectations” on her employees.

“They said I had them under so much pressure they didn’t have time to breathe. They said I was too moody,” Campbell recalled. The Jamaican-native decided to sit through brutal feedback sessions with her employees in an effort to mend these relationships. After the sessions, Campbell said, “I told them my commitment was going to be to trust them, which I clearly was not doing.” 

»RELATED: How to get a job at The Home Depot’s Atlanta HQ



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