Thursday, September 30, 2010

"Yes, We Might!"

I am hopeful, optimistic and sometimes too forgiving. My wife, Patti, says I have too short of a memory and that because of that, I probably am too trusting and that once bitten I allow myself to get bitten again and sometimes, again. I believe, in the long run, that a positive attitude causes less stress and consternation. So, as I write this, I remain hopeful for America, for our government to work and for our President to bring about the change on which he campaigned and won. But, I may be na├»ve, overly optimistic and not in touch with political reality. Only time will tell, but what I feel could work would be a new approach that starts with a plain honest and non-political assessment of what is reality and then a real plan to move us from where we are now to a defined point that can be measured. From there we need a consistent message that does not drift but instead enlists each of us to the cause and makes requests of each of us that, while we may not like them, we each can contribute and feel as though we are making a difference. If we can begin to see positive changes at the granular level where we live, then we will be able to begin to feel the momentum shift and some wind at our backs. The President is out on the road now trying to bring forward the message of hope to disillusioned constituents. The message of “Yes, We Can” is falling flat because it has started to sound like hyperbole. What we need now is the honest assessment of, “Yes, We Might”, but it is going to take more than what we are doing now, and more importantly that we each get better as fellow Americans who are open, positive and willing to engage to make America work again. This starts at the top and if it does, then “Yes, We Might”, can!

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

A Bigger Responsibility

I am troubled by those who accept and step into leadership roles, like CEO positions, who don't feel or understand the larger responsibility they are taking. While no person is enslaved to a job in America, the role of a CEO is one where if you are going to take it, you have to understand that you have to subordinate your own desires and wants and make a sacrifice for the team and your company. When you accept the role of a leader, you take on the livelihoods, morale and to some extent, the self esteem of the employees of your company. To not recognize this is to be naive and at the worst, selfish and not suited for the position. CEO's can't just decide on Monday that they want to resign in two weeks. Of course, they can, but they really can't. They have a larger responsibility and accountability than that. That accountability is to the employees in their company who have entrusted their own jobs and family stability in the CEO's hands and are counting on her/him to be there for the company and for them. This is why the decision of Mark Hurd to take the Oracle role is so bothersome for me. Mr. Hurd may have proven in his hurried move that he is actually better as a number 2 in a company than as a CEO. After his abrupt departure at HP he could have let the emotions cool down and resurfaced a few months later and done whatever he wanted without much judgment or evaluation. Well, sure there would be evaluation, but in a few months the emotion would have been taken out of his decision. Instead, he chose to bolt up 101 to join up with Oracle and put a stick in the eye of HP's Board. The stick in the eye of the Board is damaging, but what is most hurtful is the conversation that is left around the water-coolers all over the HP world. The conversation about whether or not Hurd was ever loyal to the company or not and why would he join the competition if he ever really believed the things he said for the past five years to rally the troops and fight vigorously against Oracle and others, this is the conversation that has people wondering who really is Mark Hurd? CEO's have a bigger responsibility in that they are influencing and shaping the decisions, the values and the perceptions of corporate America and executives for the next generation. Their actions speak louder than their words and they shoulder that accountability just by virtue of the job title. Those who don't understand this and who watch out for themselves first and their company (collectively) second should think long and hard before they take the job as the ramifications of their actions are just too important to miss.