Some lessons learned from recent events:
General Stanley McChrystal - no matter how good you are and how lauded you are, don't forget you are not the boss!
Kevin Rudd - what works at the beginning doesn't work forever. Don't get so caught up in your own momentum you don't notice things changing around you.
Also, stay friendly with your colleagues.
Malcolm Turnbull - Doesn't matter how successful you are at everything else you've done, you can't beat politicians at the politics. It's nothing to do with being smart or right.
Melbourne Storm - There are good reasons for all those annoying rules. Always do the right thing, even if you're swimming in a culture that doesn't. Eventually, it will - and then things will not be pretty.
Goldman Sachs / Lehman Brothers - See above.
Previous Greek governments - Don't ignore that too-hard basket. See above.
BP - thanks for pointing out the truth about business continuity plans!
But seriously, when copy-pasting BCP templates from region to region, remember to delete the walruses.
Christine Nixon - Tough luck. During normal business you're a star if you delegate and have a strong team underneath you. But when a crisis hits, you're expected to don the hard hat and direct detailed operations down the mineshaft. Never mind the two modes of working are not compatible within the one person. A factory foreman can't run a multinational and a CEO can't run the factory floor - but the CEO is expected to be able to do both.
Hence the real reason for the astronomical CEO salaries these days. Yes they are entirely out of proportion with what the individual is worth or brings to the company. But they are a direct result of the expectations people have of company leaders these days. No one can meet these forever - getting blamed and getting fired has become a certainty in business and in politics. The more senior you are the more you need that paypacket, because it is basically an insurance policy against the inevitable.
So many paths to ruin, but not many templates for success!