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Ken Adelman
Political advisor

Ken Adelman

A Reagan-era Ambassador and Arms Control Director, Ken Adelman is co-founder and vice-president of Movers and Shakespeares, which offers executive training and leadership development.

A Record Unblemished by Success

I would hope this is merely a rhetorical question, since the answer is: Of course!

The model of responsible leadership is found in the naval tradition. It's simple, straight-forward, ingrained in and thus understood by all sailors: If anything untoward happens aboard, or to, the ship, it's the captain's responsibility. Now whether he fell asleep at the wheel, had a crazy aboard, had been given a faulty map of the waters -- whatever. He is responsible.

That responsibility is not assumed in government or business. During my dozen-plus years in government, and on sundry boards over the subsequent years, I've found a real lunge for excusability (yes, it's a new word!)

Almost instinctively, the person (one would assume to be) responsible, and everyone around him, starts finding reasons (excuses) why, yes, sure that bad thing happened, but he's still really valuable.

I've seen board members turn themselves into pretzels to avoid holding a leader, like GM's chief, Rick Wagoner, responsible -- even though his record of recent years was one unblemished by success, or, at best, a mitigated disaster.

By Ken Adelman

 |  March 31, 2009; 9:55 AM ET
Category:  Economic crisis Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   Del.icio.us   StumbleUpon   Technorati  
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You're right in that the BOD is accountable - pushing out the CEO is a flinch.

Posted by: joeschmid | April 1, 2009 10:24 AM
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