In the past week, the JPMorgan CEO has been summoned to testify before Congress and learned that his company is facing investigations by an alphabet soup of federal agencies, from the CFTC to the FBI to the SEC. He’s also had to spend a lot of time in the middle of a media feeding frenzy, offering mea culpas and referring to himself and members of his team as “stupid,” “sloppy” and “dead wrong.”
In short, Jamie Dimon has been knocked off the large, white horse he rode through the financial crisis.
Now, echoing the general consensus, nothing illegal appears to have occurred in the course of JPMorgan’s $2 billion-plus trading loss. No taxpayer money was involved, and the investigations, it seems, are largely pro-regulation, political grandstanding with a dose of schadenfreude thrown in. At least so far, nothing has happened that’s actually going to seriously damage the bank’s long-term value to shareholders. It’s just that – well, it’s just that JPMorgan made a mistake.
Guess what? It happens all the time, from Wall Street to the factory floor. Work is hard, fast and complicated. People make mistakes. God knows we’ve both made them, and if you’ve got a few years of work under your belt, so have you.
Which leads us to our main point, which is really not about JPMorgan at all, or at least not about it alone. Rather, it’s about one of the most common crucible moments in leadership – a big messy failure. Thankfully, very few screwups will garner the same level of public attention as JPMorgan’s trading loss. But the principle we’re getting at is the same. Over the course of your career, you won’t be measured just by how many mistakes you make, because you’ll make your fair share, but you’ll be measured, as importantly, by how well you recover from them.