Sep 292004

Comment on Political versus Corporate Leadership, Part II: Admitting Mistakes

Comment on Political versus Corporate Leadership, Part II: Admitting Mistakes

My colleague Mike Mayor writes:

So you’e only asking for politicians to be honest Matt? Is that all? 🙂

Couldn’t agree more on the CEO side. A CEO who cannot admit to failure is doomed to be surrounded by “yes men” and, therefore, must go it alone, whereas the CEO who admits to having the odd bad idea every now and then is more likely to get truthful and accuruate information from those around him/her. Which scenario would you prefer to base your next decision on?

However, I look more to Hollywood for fostering the faux CEO/Board Room stereotypes, not politics. Look no further than the highest ranked show among 18 to 46 year olds: The Apprentice. Trump is just one contemporary example of successfully perpetuating the “kill or be killed” mentality of the ideal CEO. In his book, “How to Get Rich” one of his lessons is to “never take the blame for anything” (meanwhile Trump gets rich by being a caricature of a CEO).

The ideal CEO needs to set the example for the behavior of his employees, and creates opportunities by building relationships not “squashing the competition.” And like it or not, the ideal Board Room is actually a Think Tank of great minds working toward a common goal rather than a place to play mind games and mental poker.

Unfortunately, both of these things make for a horrible TV show but do contribute to building truly great companies! On the other hand, watch too many TV shows (or follow the politician’s lead) and you’ll likely become a CEO whose success is comparable to the CEOs of Enron and Tyco.