erik lundegaard

Distilling the B.S. of CEOs

I read the following three paragraphs, from the article “Distilling the Wisdom of CEOs” by Adam Bryant, in yesterday's New York Times. Three grafs was as far as I got before I began railing in frustration:

IMAGINE 100 people working at a large company. They’re all middle managers, around 35 years old. They’re all smart. All collegial. All hard-working. They all have positive attitudes. They’re all good communicators.

So what will determine who gets the next promotion, and the one after that? Which of them, when the time comes, will get that corner office?

In other words, what does it take to lead an organization — whether it’s a sports team, a nonprofit, a start-up or a multinational corporation?

The Corner Office by Adam BryantIn other words?

What is Bryant assuming here? He's assuming that the employee who demonstrates the greatest leadership skills will get promoted. He's assuming that promotions are based upon positive skills. He's assuming nothing pejorative—ruthlessness, ass-kissing, bad-mouthing competition—goes into success or promotion in a modern corporate office.

I mean, c'mon.

In distilling that CEO wisdom, Bryant comes up with the following traits that will help those 100 hard-working 35-year-olds (and presumably you and me):

  • passionate curiosity
  • battle-hardened confidence
  • team smarts
  • a simple mind-set
  • fearlessness

All positive, of course. No CEO got where they got because of anything untoward. Maybe we should add “self-promotion” to the list. “Selective memory.” “Bullshit.”

Interesting, too, how these five traits may help the CEO but not necessarily the company. Or us. You'll probably find the last four traits, for example, in every CEO that led us straight into the global financial meltdown. When it comes to investing in derivatives based upon subprime mortage loans, fearfulness has its place.


Posted at 08:05 AM on Mon. Apr 18, 2011 in category Business  
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COMMENTS

Dana Garbo wrote:

I second every last word, brother! What the junk is that guy smoking? Obviously he's never f-ing worked in corporate America. Or he's just a hopeless sycophant.

Comment posted on Mon. Apr 18, 2011 at 09:43 AM

Jake wrote:

The guy is trying to sell business books to business people. Tough to do when the teaser you offer your market is “you guys are dicks. And, ehh, the more dickish you are, the better your career'll be.”

This article is a marketing piece. I don't blame Bryant for marketing in said piece. Now should the NYT be running Bryant's marketing piece . . . ?

Comment posted on Mon. Apr 18, 2011 at 03:38 PM

Erik wrote:

I don't know: “How to Dick Your Way to the Top (Even If You're a Woman)” sounds like a best-seller to me.

Comment posted on Mon. Apr 18, 2011 at 07:23 PM

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