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Marshall Goldsmith
Executive Coach/Author

Marshall Goldsmith

Marshall Goldsmith is an executive educator, speaker, coach and best-selling author. His most recent book is Mojo.

Heroes and villians have always been there

Q: Tony Hayward, once credited for BP's "green" turnaround, is forced to resign in disgrace. Michael Dell, the revolutionary high-tech entrepreneur, is sanctioned for misleading investors. Wall Street titans, once lionized, are now reviled. Where have all the CEO heroes gone?

I believe that there are just as many corporate heroes today as there have been in the past. Alan Mulally (Ford) is one friend that comes to mind. I also believe that there are just as many military heroes (Admiral Mark Guadagnini, US Navy), non-profit heroes (Frances Hesselbein, Leader to Leader Institute) and government heroes ( Eric Shinseki, Secretary of Veterans Affairs) as there are corporate heroes.

There are also several younger CEOs (and leaders in all sectors) on the horizon that have the potential to be great. Liz Smith (OSI) and Josh Silverman (Skype) are two that I have worked with recently.

On the other hand, some CEOs should be reviled. I don't know enough to confirm that Tony Hayward and Michael Dell should be put in that category. Any CEO who has knowingly lied, cheated or stolen should be removed from office.

Have you ever read a history book? Corrupt leaders have been with us for many centuries. Throughout history, most CEOs have been older men. Is there anything in the history of the world that would lead you to believe that when old men are given lots of status, money and power they always become more sane and rational? I missed that book.

Great leaders, and terrible leaders have been with us throughout our history. Some things never change.

By Marshall Goldsmith

 |  July 28, 2010; 9:47 AM ET
Category:  CEOs , Corporate leadership Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   Del.icio.us   StumbleUpon   Technorati  
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