They’re No Donald Trump
This piece on John Kerry’s management style is exactly the type of thing my leadership-oriented mind enjoys weighing. When it comes to a President as Chief Executive, the choice is difficult but the debate is common to every large business in the world.
In one corner stands the quintessential micromanager. Spend years in the business accumulating a wealth of knowledge, making you both highly informed in what you do know and highly resistant to contradictory advice from others who are highly informed in similar areas. Use your intelligence to make slow, rational, and well-reasoned decisions in an often-painful process that may not be finished quickly enough for timely action and irritates everyone around you in the meantime. Occasionally ask ridiculous technical questions to keep your advisers on their toes, and as a rule act under the assumption that you are more informed and just plain smarter than the person with whom you are speaking.
In the other corner we have the �ber-macro version of governance. Surround yourself with a stable group of intelligence and competent advisers and pray (literally) that they never lead you astray. Favor stability at the risk of groupthink under the assuption that the resulting efficiency will lead to an improved decision-making system. Make decisions quickly based on the facts available and stand by those decisions until (and sometimes even after) the position becomes untenable. Regardless of how smart you think you are, learn to value decisiveness as your comparative advantage and delegate nearly all thinking activities to suboordinates while keeping a death-grip on the reins.
So, you’re a shareholder and you have two choices for your CEO. One has a MBA and 20 years experience as a chief executive, including 4 in the current position, but his history of decisive action includes several questionable calls that some argue are disastrous to the long-term stability of the company. The other has 20 years of directly-related business experience and extensive knowledge of the field, but virtually no management experience and widespread concerns of excessive deliberation and micromanagement.
One thing I always hate to hear is the “anything’s better than the status quo” argument. A lot of people hate Wal-Mart but no sensible investor would advance such a position at the shareholders’ meeting. The more reasonable argument goes something like “Do the numbers suggest that the firm is headed in the wrong direction? If so, can it be turned around under current policies or do we need a turnaround expert? If we need one, do we have a turnaround expert available or would we just be shaking things up?” These are tough questions, but they’re much better than the ones some people are asking. Instincts are great to have, but if emotional impulsiveness and bad information are considered bad qualities in a candidate then they should be no less acceptable for a voter. Anyway, there’s my two cents for the evening.