Sydney Finkelstein

Steven Roth Professor of Management, and Faculty Director, Tuck Executive Program (TEP), Tuck Center for Leadership

Sydney Finkelstein, author of Superbosses

Sydney Finkelstein teaches courses on leadership and strategy at the Tuck School, and also has worked with executives at a number of other prestigious universities. He holds degrees from Concordia University and London School of Economics, and a PhD from Columbia University.

Professor Finkelstein has published 17 books and 75 articles, including the #1 bestseller in the U.S. and Japan Why Smart Executives Fail: And What You Can Learn from Their Mistakes (Portfolio, 2003). Based on a six-year study of 51 companies and 200 interviews of business leaders, the book identifies the fundamental reasons why major mistakes happen, points out early warning signals that are critical for investors and managers alike, and offers ideas on how organizations can develop a capability of learning from corporate mistakes. On the Fortune list of Best Business Books, it has also been featured in the Financial Times, BusinessWeek, The Times of London, Toronto Globe and Mail, Fast Company, Across the Board, and Entrepreneurship, and has been translated into 11 languages. In Professor Finkelstein’s follow-up book Think Again: Why Good Leaders Make Bad Decisions and How to Keep It from Happening to You (Harvard Business Press, 2009), he turned his attention to such major strategic decisions as the war in Iraq, Hurricane Katrina, and numerous business cases to explain why decision-makers sometimes think they’re right when they are really wrong. The book takes up recent research in neuroscience, cognitive psychology, and management to not only document why things go wrong, but also offer solutions that reduce our vulnerability to falling into the traps that lead to bad decisions.

Professor Finkelstein is a Fellow of the Academy of Management, and has had three books nominated for the Academy of Management’s Terry Book Award, the most prestigious such honor in the field. His other awards include finalist for Academy of Management Executive Best Paper Award (2004), honorable mention for McKinsey & Company Strategic Management Society Best Conference Paper (2002), Best Paper Award from Academy of Management Executive for his article “Leveraging Intellect” (1997). He has also received two Citations of Excellence from ANBAR, the world’s leading guide to management journal literature, the Cenafoni Prize for research in entrepreneurial strategy (1991), and was finalist for the A.T. Kearney award for the best research in strategic management (1988). 

Professor Finkelstein is a recognized thought leader on leadership, strategy, and corporate governance and listed in the “World’s Top 25 Leadership Gurus.” and on the “Thinkers 50.” He is known for his keynote speeches and television appearances,  and as a columnist for the BBC. He has served as a consultant and speaker for major companies around the world, including, Aetna, American Express, Bank of Montreal, Barclays, Boeing, Cerberus, Chevron, Comcast, Deloitte, Deutsche Bank, Eaton, Freddie Mac, General Dynamics, General Electric, Glaxo, Heinz, Hitachi, ING, ITT, Johnson & Johnson, JP Morgan Chase, Korn-Ferry, Mayo Clinic, McGraw-Hill, McKinsey, Monsanto, Morgan Stanley, Novartis, PricewaterhouseCoopers, Raytheon, Roche, Rollins, Russell Reynolds, UBS, and United Technologies.

More Information

Academic Biography
Personal Website
BBC Capital: Syd Weighs In
Follow on Twitter @SydFinkelstein
Download a chapter of "Why Smart Executives Fail"

It's not only about being aware of what is changing around you, it is about stepping up to do something about it. And having the tools to do it.

– Sydney Finkelstein