As noted, colleague Jessica Stilman quotes business maven Guy Kawasaki's "bullet in the base of the skull" approach to quick and efficient layofffs. When I questioned its humanity, a couple of readers questioned my reading comprehension ability and "leadership." They may have a point with the former, but as for the latter, I never claimed to be a leader, just a journalist,
Meanwhile, fellow The Corner Office blogger Steve Tobak posted "10 CEO Myths," in which Steve tries to reassure us that many of them are actually nice guys. I'm sure they are and I know a few. But I think the message is a little off point, especially considering the current times.
My point is that we have to question CEOs right now. Our financial system and some of our manufacturing is falling apart at warp speed. It is a time for leadership and it is a time to question those in charge of business. Doing so is incredibly important.
And what do we get? We get CEOs from the Big Three automakers acting as if they are from a different planet.
Consider Floyd Norris, business columnist for The New York Times, writing about the time he interviewed visionary but ethically-challenged GM head John DeLorean three decades ago. DeLorean told Norris that when he needed money at GM, he simply requisitioned it. He did the same with paper clips.
When Norris read GM CEO Rick Wagoner's testimony this week pleading for a $25 billion federal bailout, he noted that it was as if Wagoner was merely "requisitioning" money. "Nowhere in the article is a hint of apology for any errors he or his company might have made."
Flip over to this morning's Wall Street Journal and a piece by Paul Ingrassia. The veteran watcher of automakers notes that GM is already bankrupt. And he questions Wagoner's congressional testimony that a change in automaker leadership won't make any difference. "This is like Louis XIV saying, 'L'Etat c'est moi.'"
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi sent the three CEOs back on their three corporate jets to come up with a business plan before Congress will consider a bailout, which might be necessary after all. This is sort of like Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson writing his original proposal for a $700 billion bailout in a document that was all of two and a half pages long.
Maybe some of us want to apologize for Corporate America. I don't.