Carlos Ghosn, ex-chairman and CEO of Nissan and Renault, once admired as a role model of a global leader, was jailed in November 2018. This chapter examines why Nissan senior executives took the controversial step of reporting Ghosn’s alleged behavior to the Prosecutor’s office, knowing it would send him to jail, rather than manage the situation internally. Clearly, the trust that Ghosn had built during the Nissan revival was no longer alive. We describe three phases across two decades of Ghosn’s leadership in Nissan. In each phase we analyze the relationship between Ghosn’s behavior and the business outcomes, on the one hand, and Ghosn’s relationship with the senior leaders at Nissan, on the other hand. Ghosn built trust with Nissan leaders in Phase I through his skillful global leadership and positive social processes. The trust was reinforced on its own momentum through Phase II. Starting with Phase III, mistakes in managing social dynamics became evident: Ghosn did not adjust his social relationships at Nissan, following changes in the environment and the organization. He became disconnected from the Nissan senior executives and employees, who eventually blew the whistle on his behaviors. Ironically, it seems that many of the factors that led to Ghosn’s success at Nissan turned into factors which led to his downfall. Ghosn’s case tells us that the virtuous circle of leadership can sometimes spiral so far that it is taken for granted. Neglecting to tend this virtuous circle can unravel it.
Ikegami, J. and Maznevski, M. (2019), "Revisiting Carlos Ghosn’s Global Leadership Style: Making Sense of His Fall from Power", Advances in Global Leadership (Advances in Global Leadership, Vol. 12), Emerald Publishing Limited, pp. 3-21. https://doi.org/10.1108/S1535-120320190000012002Download as .RIS
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