Exploring Leadership in the News with Steven Pearlstein and Raju Narisetti
Off With Their Heads?
The government's ouster of GM's chief, Rick Wagoner, raises the classic dilemma: Is removing the top leader -- irrespective of talent, culpability or the disruption it might cause -- the best way to signal that dramatic change is imminent and inevitable?
Posted by Ben Bradlee and Steve Pearlstein on March 30, 2009 10:14 AM
A parallel can be drawn between the ousting of GM's Rick Wagoner to the firing of some of the most highly accomplished senior leaders in the military due to the challenges at the Walter Reed Army Medical Center.
Posted by Col. Charles D. Allen, on April 6, 2009 12:04 PM
Removing a leader is a good way to signal change, but it will not necessary lead to change. Employees and others at the organization have to be ready for dramatic change for a leadership change to be effective.
Wagoner's main failure -- to lead adaptive change -- had many "parents" throughout management and labor within GM and the investment, political, and consuming communities that fed into GM from outside. He shouldn't just be a scapegoat.
Posted by Ronald Heifetz, on March 31, 2009 3:39 PM
Corporate compensation culture of the last 10 or 15 years holds that when things go even moderately well, a handful of people at the very top of the company benefit the most. It's only fair those at the top should bear responsibility for failure.
Posted by Paul R. Portney, on March 31, 2009 2:58 PM
It would be ridiculous to put the failure of GM at the feet of Mr. Wagoner or any other individual CEO, and, if there are no substantive changes in the GM system, we'll likely be examining his successor's failure in short order.
The perception of tough management of taxpayer's dollars is both a strong signal and good politics. It just might help some bankers hear the drums beating, start to cancel their private jet orders, and shelve any new creative bonus strategies.