Demoralised CEOs Need Stiff Upper Lip

Last Updated Aug 18, 2009 10:17 AM EDT

Apparently the CEOs of S&P 500 companies are demoralised because they have lost half, or $53 billion, of their personal wealth.

Eventually, I managed to wipe the tears from my eyes after laughing so much. The poor dears. Perhaps we should organise a charity drive for them: anyone got a spare jersey to send to them?

Why does this make no sense? Let's take it in stages.

  1. Most of us would be delighted to have lost $53 billion of personal wealth, but still have another $53 billion to play with.
  2. The CEOs are demoralised because they say the loss was nothing to do with them: it was all down to the stock market which has wiped out their juicy stock option plans. Perhaps they should think more carefully about what they are saying. The same argument means that vast wealth which they accumulated also had nothing to do with them: they simply won big on the lottery when the stock market boomed. Their argument shows that they were vastly overpaid in the first place.
  3. Most of the CEOs are officials who have climbed the greasy pole of career advancement, with vey little in the way of personal risk required. They want entrepreneurial rewards for bureaucratic performance. Entrepreneurs deserve what they get for risking bankruptcy; corporate officials are not in the same league.
  4. Their demoralisation suggests that they are more interested in promoting their own interests, than in the interests of their employees and shareholders. Their demoralisation suggests a deep intellectual, moral and emotional bankruptcy on their part: not a good role model for the rest of the organisation.
These CEOs should stop whining and start leading. If they can't do that, they should get out.

(Pic: Mel B. cc2.0)

  • Jo Owen

    Jo Owen practises what he preaches as a leader. He has worked with over 100 of the best, and a couple of the worst, organisations in the world, has built a business in Japan; started a bank (now HBOS business banking); was a partner at Accenture and brand manager at P&G. He is a serial entrepreneur whose start-ups include top 10 graduate recruiter Teach First and Start Up, which has helped over 250 ex-offenders start their own businesses. He has and has spent seven years researching leadership, strategy and organisation in tribal societies. His books include "Tribal Business School", "How to Lead and How to Manage." He is in demand as a speaker and coach on leadership and change. His websites include Tribal Business School and Leadership Partnership