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Should federal officials resign when problems arise?




Secret Service Director Julia Pierson prepares to testify to the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee on the White House perimeter breach at the Rayburn House Office Building on September 30, 2014 in Washington, DC. Pierson is giving an account of an incident involving a security breach at the White House after a man jumped the fence and was not subdued until after he had entered the mansion, deeper into the building than what it was previously reported.
Secret Service Director Julia Pierson prepares to testify to the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee on the White House perimeter breach at the Rayburn House Office Building on September 30, 2014 in Washington, DC. Pierson is giving an account of an incident involving a security breach at the White House after a man jumped the fence and was not subdued until after he had entered the mansion, deeper into the building than what it was previously reported.
Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

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Secret Service Director Julia Pierson announced her resignation in light of failed efforts to stop fence jumpers from entering the White House last month, and other lax security measures.

This appears to be the typical move of any chief whose organization experiences scandal or suffers through a series of mistakes, but is it really best for the organization?

Rosabeth Moss Kanter, from Harvard Business School, says yes.

“It’s a good time to resign when things happen on your watch that you either say you don't know about, try to cover up and aren’t doing anything to fix,” Kanter said.

Kanter has written about leaders who have stayed with companies through turmoil, like Cisco and Boeing. Those businesses are now thriving. But Kanter says there is a difference between those situations and what happened with Pierson.

“The difference is whether or not the leader has a credible plan that’s being executed for making a difference and also has credibility because of earlier successes,” Moss Kanter said. “But if you come in ... and you have nothing to show for it, [then] you can’t demonstrate progress.”