Leadership mistakes can be understood and resolved in the document management context, and the reasons why will be the purpose of this post. Technology is rarely discussed in the leadership context.

But given how much office technology matters in workplace collaboration, productivity, and corporate culture, technology should always be viewed through the lens of leadership.

In other words, leadership impacts the use of technology to solve business problems, and technology used to solve business problems impacts leadership. They have a direct effect on each other.

In this post, we’ll analyze some of the biggest leadership mistakes of the 21st century, including how document management technology could’ve prevented these mistakes from unfolding.

AOL’s Tim Armstrong: The Most Bizarre of Leadership Mistakes

Tim Armstrong was the chief executive officer of AOL and Patch for a number of years. He first earned a reputation for being a sales genius at Google, but has always been donned as a forward-thinking executive with a broad skillset across a variety of different sales and marketing models.

However, Armstrong’s outburst at a Patch meeting several years ago showcases how even some of the most stress-resistant executives can lose their cool, and in front of a very large audience.

Knowing the company was on the brink of failing, Armstrong told his team that they could blame him for the company’s failures, suggesting he felt responsible for the company’s difficult months.

However, after putting this behind him and trying to rally his team to a motivational mindset, Tim Armstrong fired a videographer in front of 1,000 employees.

Although the room fell completely silent, Armstrong began talking again as if nothing had happened. His employees were absolutely shocked—and could not focus on anything Armstrong said henceforth. After the media calmed down, the consensus was that Armstrong was unhinged, and practically “schizophrenic” in his thinking.

Why It Matters in the Document Management Context

When companies grow quickly like Patch and AOL, they struggle to make their growth predictable and stable, sending leadership into a state of frenzied panic.

A large part of this can be attributed to the downfalls of paper-based business processes.

A document is far more than a piece of paper—it’s a piece of the organization’s entire document infrastructure—a very small piece of the holy grail of information that can be leveraged, shared, and funneled through cycles of collaboration.

Without the systems to manage this information, especially during the capture and imaging process, leadership will always have a harder time keeping its cool during periods of growth and uncertainty, as they won’t be able to harness all the information at their disposal—an issue that a document management solution can resolve.

Wells Fargo’s John Stumpf

His is a name that will go down in utter infamy, a name that will be housed in the same pantheon of evil businessmen as Bernie Madoff’s.

With incidents like the one Stumpf is responsible for, it’s no wonder consumers trust businesses with their data less than ever.

Stumpf resigned after information leaked about Wells Fargo opening 1.5 million fake bank and credit card accounts without consent from the customers involved. Nearly 5,000 employees were fired, including managers and their subordinates.

One of the reasons illegal activity occurred under Wells Fargo was the high-pressure sales environment, which arguably urged the salespeople to engage in illicit activity. Administered from the top down, these sales protocols are largely viewed as Stumpf’s responsibility. This will truly go down as one of the biggest leadership mistakes of all time.

Why It Matters in the Document Management Context

Had operational measures been in place to streamline Wells Fargo’s processes and reduce operating expenses, which can skyrocket with large companies like Wells Fargo if left unchecked, the high-pressure sales environment may not have been needed to reach the level of profit that Stumpf would’ve deemed accessible, and the scandal that dominated headlines for month would not have been associated with Wells Fargo’s name, reputation, and indelible stamp on the commercial banking market.

A document management solution could’ve also provided the auditing abilities investigators needed to stop Wells Fargo in its tracks much sooner—long before the incident erupted into a full-fledged scandal.

Better yet, the organization that a document management system provides could’ve made it easier for those not in on the scandal to identify what was going on, possibly reporting it to authorities before the problem got so out of hand.

When it comes to restoring consumers’ trust in the enterprise, Wells Fargo has a very steep hill to climb. It can be argued that Stumpf’s actions are exactly what Elizabeth Warren declared them to be—an example of “gutless leadership.” Moving forward, Wells Fargo must do much to mend one of the most devastatingly tarnished reputations in the history of capitalism.

The Panama Papers

Unlike the previous two entries, this example of leadership mistakes cannot be attributed to one person, but rather a group of people—clients of the Panamanian law firm Mossack Fonseca.

The unknown group of hackers surmised more than 11 million documents from the law firm and leaked the information to an international consortium of journalists, showcasing how the global elites can hide their wealth and income from major tax authorities around the world.

Although this is an instance of security and data breach, something document management technologies can prevent, the incident itself sheds light on why corporate accountability matters.

Without corporate accountability in place, the lack of proper systems can be exposed and leaked to the public, showcasing just how careless companies can be with their customers’ information.

How it Is Relevant in the Document Management Context

The Panama Papers incident reveals a lot about document management and the lesson is very clear. Keeping your processes transparent is not just important for external auditors, but also important in the wake of investigative journalism—if a company’s processes are not transparent in the way that document management makes them transparent, this raises red flags for the public, investigators, and auditing organizations.

Concluding Thoughts

Document management doesn’t just increase corporate accountability, it provides the means to facilitate it.

In an age of tarnished leadership methods, devastatingly inefficient processes and overwhelmingly high standards, document management technology is one of the only ways leadership can ease the pressure of the overwhelming burdens it faces without sacrificing corporate accountability.

Today, as never before, hacking has revealed corruption in organizations, and we must depend on technology to instill confidence and thought leadership in organizations for the betterment of global business.