Management Turnover as Change Agent

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Recommended Reading - Can Good Leadership be Learned?, The Atlantic

Lane Wallace ,a correspondent for The Atlantic, examined Alan Deutschman’s new book, Walk the Walk: The #1 Rule for Real Leaders. Wallace was pleasantly surprised at how insightful the book was. She wrote,

… Deutschman’s premise about the importance of management being authentic, honest, and not asking anyone beneath them to meet any standard or make any sacrifice they’re not prepared to meet or make themselves is clearly not as obvious or widely understood as I once might have thought. Take yesterday’s column by David Carr of the New York Times about the management at the Tribune Company arguing to a bankruptcy court–after leading the company into bankruptcy (in no small part because of a badly-conceived, heavily-leveraged purchase that left the company saddled with debt) and depriving more than 2,000 employees of jobs– that the managers should be awarded between 45 to 60 million dollars in performance bonuses. The bonuses are necessary, the company’s lawyers argued, because getting a company out of bankruptcy is hard work, and “not being rewarded for hard work and hard effort is demotivating.”

… Another point Deutschman makes is that a great leader has, in the words of Urban Meyer, head football coach at the University of Florida (where Tim Tebow plays), “the ability to make the level of play of everyone else around him better.” Again, a seeming statement of the ridiculously obvious. But consider this piece on Bank of America’s outgoing CEO (and former chariman) Ken Lewis, who announced last week that he was retiring–although he said he’d stay on through December because a successor wasn’t waiting in the wings. And why wasn’t a successor waiting in the wings? Because, according to the article’s author, Joe Nocera, Lewis “brutally fired many of the firm’s most talented executives, seemingly afraid to be surrounded by potential successors.”

The book appears to be worth a read.

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