Saturday, March 01, 2008

Leadership Crisis in America: February, Part 1, American Failures

So much happened in February that I will make a 3 part posting on the Leadership Crisis. This installment will touch briefly on American failures. The purpose of this post is to emphasize the seriousness of the Leadership Crisis. We have weekly, almost daily reminders of the depth of the problem. If you are not already convinced we are in a Leadership Crisis, then I hope you will believe after these posts.

I want to move beyond preaching how we are in a Leadership Crisis and start considering how we got into this mess and how we might get out of it.

The New York Times, Wed. Feb. 6, 2008, "Papers Show Wachovia Knew of Thefts" by Charles Duhigg reported that Wachovia Bank was a knowing participant in theft from the accounts of Wachovia customers. Yes, Wachovia helped crooks rob Wachovia customers because Wachovia found a way to profit from the theft. What a betrayal of their customers. And not just a few, but thousands of their customers.

Forbes, Yahoo Finance, and the Wall Street Journal (Sat. Feb. 23, 2008) said Bank of America, which purchased Countrywide Financial Corp., made David Sambol would head its combined consumer mortgage operations. Sambol, Countrywide's President, drove Countrywide into the jaws of bankruptcy. Sambol ruined Countrywide so BoA could purchase it cheaply and he gets rewarded for failure.

Remember I said we should consider how we got into this Leadership Crisis? Promoting proven failures is one of many reasons we are in this Leadership Crisis.

The New York Times on Tue. Feb. 26, 2008 published "Guilty Verdict for 5 in A.I.G. Case" by Lynnley Browning. Among the five newly convicted business persons are Ronald Ferguson, CEO of Gen Re, Elizabeth Monrad, Gen Re CFO, and Robert Graham, Sr. VP and Asst. General Counsel: convicted on 16 counts of fraud and conspiracy to manipulate financial statements. (Gen Re means General Reinsurance.)

Imagine the number of business leaders who belong in jail numbering in the hundreds, maybe in the thousands. This is a sad situation.

Also consider the unspoken premise for all this fraud: thousands of American business leaders do not know how to grow their business, which is why they resort to fraud, so they can fake success.

Why are we in a Leadership Crisis? Perhaps too many business persons have been promoted to leadership positions by faking success. Lying about schedules, budget, and performance to the CEO is not a crime. But when a faker is promoted to CEO or CFO and fakes financial statements, then yesterday's fibs become today's crimes.


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