Friday, January 22, 2010

The Difficult Generation of Business Leadership

Corporations have unlimited free speech rights when it comes to campaign funding, according to a Supreme Court decision. A company is controlled by its board of directors. Shareholders elect board members. What kind of leaders occupy those board chairs? Most are from the CEO club. A prominent member, GE's Jeff Immelt, said:

We are at the end of a difficult generation of business leadership, and maybe leadership in general. Tough-mindedness, a good trait, was replaced by meanness and greed, both terrible traits.

Rewards became perverted. The richest people made the most mistakes with the least accountability. In too many situations, leaders divided us instead of bringing us together.

Mean & greedy CEO’s populate each others BOD. Shareholders won’t decide, much less control corporate political spending.

Immelt’s wrong, we aren’t anywhere near the end of the generation of leadership meanness and greed. The Supreme Court gave them a new way to divide.

American branded multi-nationals have numerous offshore subsidiaries. SEC filings show the international subsidiaries of the following firms.

Goldman Sachs

Can their offshore subs buy political candidate ad time? It's but another tool in the race to the lowest global common denominator on worker pay/benefits, taxes and regulation.

"When a corporation turns 35 can it run for President?" asked Njori.

I noted The Carlyle Group isn't old enough to serve, at least not yet. It comes of age in the shadow of D.C. politicians with its Pennsylvania Avenue address. What will our country look like when The Carlyle Group reaches 35? How deep will meanness and greed have borne into America's fabric?

It's not hard to imagine a headline, "Wall Street cash pours into NY Attorney General race." Oops, it already happened.

Update 2-11-12:  Meanness and greed accelerated into hyper-competition for the 2012 Presidential campaign.