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Clueless CEOs

By July 12, 2004

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The indictment of ex-Enron CEO Ken Lay, and his defense that he didn't know that the people below him were engaged in criminal activity, prompted me to comment last week that
    "I have no way of knowing whether Lay participated in or directed the fraudulent activities at Enron or if he was as clueless as he claims. That is for the courts to decide. I do know, however, that I would be very unhappy with a CEO who didn't know what the people below him were doing. How else can you be sure they are doing what you want them to do to help the company achieve its mission if you don't know what they are doing?"

The article "If Colin Powell had Commanded Enron: The Hidden Foundation of Leadership", by Oren Harari and LynnBrewer points out that

    "The conventional criteria for good leadership... are attributes that senior Enron people such as Chairman Kenneth Lay, CEO Jeffrey Skilling, CFO Andrew Fastow... and the entire Enron board of directors had in spades - attributes that are both valid and necessary. But for genuine leaders, they represent only half the story. The other half of the story turns out to be the less-flashy, below-the-surface foundation of leadership."
It's an excellent article. Take the time to read it to understand that beyond leadership skill, one must have the leadership vision to lead properly.

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