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Archive: Corporate leadership

A big fish's big wake: What Rajat Gupta's insider trading charges mean for McKinsey

Of all the fish the SEC has caught in the vast insider trading probe it has been pursuing for many months now--or perhaps, some are saying, that have been hooked by accusations of securities law violations ever--none may be bigger than Rajat Gupta.

By Jena McGregor | March 1, 2011; 11:09 PM ET | Comments (7)

Dior to fire John Galliano over anti-Semitic remarks

While this approach may work well when the designer is loved and adored, it will only backfire if he or she does something as scandalous as what Galliano is alleged to have done. The designer becomes inextricably tied to the brand's success, making him or her that much harder to replace. And the same image-conscious celebrities who helped promote the label could begin to shun it, prompting the style-obsessed masses to do so too.

By Jena McGregor | March 1, 2011; 12:11 PM ET | Comments (47)

Apple's elephant in the room

I don't think Apple should be forced to reveal its succession plan--as long it has one in place--it could still choose to be more forthcoming on the status of one of its most critical assets.

By Jena McGregor | February 24, 2011; 10:35 AM ET | Comments (5)

Google in Egypt: Can companies limit employee activism?

he Google executive, as Ghonim is known, is based in Dubai and is a marketing manager for the search-engine giant in the region. But he has also been one of a small group of people behind the Facebook campaign that helped to spark the massive protests calling for the president's ouster.

By Jena McGregor | February 9, 2011; 10:35 AM ET | Comments (17)

Quotas for a 'prettier' corporate board?

Should companies be forced to put women in leadership roles? It may seem like regulatory anathema to U.S. businesses, but it's not unheard of in Europe.

By Jena McGregor | February 8, 2011; 08:58 AM ET | Comments (24)

Can Arianna Huffington hold onto that founder's drive?

What may be the more interesting question is how this deal will play out for Huffington. She'll end up far richer, of course. But will she be able to retain the sense of urgency and entrepreneurial zeal that got her site where it is now?

By Jena McGregor | February 7, 2011; 01:32 PM ET | Comments (24)

Redskins' Snyder: Reputation management in a digital age

By bringing attention to an otherwise fairly obscure publication, Snyder's suit is only calling more attention to the reputation concerns he bemoans.

By Jena McGregor | February 3, 2011; 11:41 AM ET | Comments (57)

FCIC report: What if the SEC paid like Goldman Sachs?

If regulators were incented to stop fraud and prevent future financial apocalypses on the same scale that traders were rewarded for selling worthless derivatives, we'd surely be in a very different place today. The best talent coming out of our best universities might not immediately be shipping off to Wall Street, but to Washington instead.

By Jena McGregor | January 28, 2011; 09:11 AM ET | Comments (28)

The real question to ask GE's Immelt about chairing the jobs council

How on earth will he have the time? This is a man who already runs one of the largest corporations on the planet, with some 300,000 employees and operations in more than 160 countries. Not only is he CEO of GE, but he is chairman of its board of directors too. Immelt is also on the board of The New York Federal Reserve Bank.

By Jena McGregor | January 24, 2011; 09:54 AM ET | Comments (8)

Behind the curtain: Besides Jobs, Apple's other leaders

Taken together, the top brass at Apple is likely to keep the company humming during Jobs' absence and manage the company quite well, at least in the short term. Over the long haul, however, many Apple observers question whether any of these leaders has the same capacity to inspire the sort of game-changing technology and design feats for which Jobs is so well known.

By Jena McGregor | January 18, 2011; 10:31 AM ET | Comments (5)

Revealing Apple's succession plan?

In a sense, this debate--should Apple reject the pension fund's proposal to make succession plans public--is similar to the bigger one, on whether or not the company should share more about Jobs' health condition. Jobs' right to medical privacy matters, just as the company's right to keep its succession plan private is one worth protecting.

By Jena McGregor | January 18, 2011; 09:38 AM ET | Comments (4)

Jobs' medical leave creates uncertainty for Apple, investors

Of course, I wish Jobs a speedy recovery, and do believe in a certain amount of respect for privacy as a family goes through an illness. But I also believe leaders have a responsibility to share as much information as possible, even if that means giving up some of their own privacy. That's especially true at a company where one person is so central--whether in reality or in perception--to the company's future.

By Jena McGregor | January 17, 2011; 10:11 AM ET | Comments (5)

Finally, merit pay for auto workers?

A pay structure that only rewards seniority or job description does not do much to encourage people to work better, smarter and more efficiently on a day-to-day basis. Rather, it rewards people solely for sticking around. And as GM and Chrysler try to get out from under the government's investments, they will need their people--all of their people--to do a lot more than that.

By Jena McGregor | January 14, 2011; 10:07 AM ET | Comments (24)

CES: Tech throws a party, and Apple stays home

The more interesting question is whether attending CES would actually hurt the mystique of Apple's brand. Theoretically, even if the company attended the annual trade show that wouldn't mean it had to launch its latest iPad there, or divulge big news at the Las Vegas event.

By Jena McGregor | January 6, 2011; 10:26 AM ET | Comments (34)

As SEC said to investigate Hurd, gray areas for HP's board

Who knows what Hurd told Fisher, and what his relationship with her really was. What intrigues me is the debate the board reportedly had about what to disclose from Fisher's letter, including the claim that Hurd shared details on inside deals. It's a legal gray area, the Journal reports. On the one hand, Fisher denied trading on the information in her initial letter, which means the board may not be required to report it. But Hurd's revelation, if the allegation is true, may also be a breach of fiduciary responsibility, according to legal experts.

By Jena McGregor | December 21, 2010; 11:41 AM ET | Comments (0)

Wall Street bonuses may drop, but not expectations

The issues surrounding Wall Street compensation will never be resolved by new rules or new laws about how big bonuses can be or in what way people can be paid. The people who work there are smart, and they will find a way around them. The only way any change will happen is for firm leaders--who currently have little incentive to change things themselves--to upend company culture through making tough, bold decisions that overturn years of ingrained expectations.

By Jena McGregor | December 20, 2010; 11:05 AM ET | Comments (6)

Obama's CEO meeting: 'Uncertainty' an excuse for hoarding profits?

CEOs are increasingly saying that it is uncertainty over the economy and regulations that is prompting them not to spend, or invest toward hiring, the nearly $2 trillion in cash on their books--the highest amount in half a century.

By Jena McGregor | December 15, 2010; 04:05 PM ET | Comments (11)

Bank brings dress code to a new level with 43-page guide

UBS is sending some of its retail banking staffers a 43-page code that advises them on everything from how much makeup women should wear (a light application of foundation, mascara and "discreet" lipstick "will enhance your personality") to how often men should get their hair cut (every four weeks).

By Jena McGregor | December 15, 2010; 12:17 PM ET | Comments (81)

Pfizer's CEO resignation: Fatigue sets in

But with such a cult of celebrity built up around top leaders--not to mention the rich compensation they receive--it's easy to see why they get involved in doing so much more. Maybe if CEOs were paid in more equitable terms, they wouldn't feel as much of an obligation to work the inhuman hours and keep up with the insane travel schedules that they, their companies and their shareholders seem to believe will help justify the riches they earn.

By Jena McGregor | December 6, 2010; 02:09 PM ET | Comments (0)

Barry Diller's atypical exit

But by saying "this company needs" those qualities in its CEO, readers could easily infer that he thinks the company doesn't have them now. Also odd is the comment that "it's been clear" to him "for some time" that the company is in need of this kind of leader. Unintended or not, the comment will read to some as if Diller hasn't been giving 110 percent, and as if he's known that to be the case for a while.

By Jena McGregor | December 2, 2010; 12:58 PM ET | Comments (0)

What businesses should know about WikiLeaks

Complete openness and transparency is not only impossible but undesirable in any large institution. Controlling who has access to information that matters--without limiting access to information that would be helpful to employees--is a tension every leader should be wrestling with today.

By Jena McGregor | November 30, 2010; 12:08 PM ET | Comments (5)

Bush and Zuckerberg: Leadership soul mates?

George W. Bush and Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg may not seem like they have a lot in common. One is a mid-60s former leader of the free world who famously called the Web "the Internets"; the other is a hoodie-wearing, twenty-something entrepreneur who runs one of the world's fastest growing technology companies.

By Jena McGregor | November 30, 2010; 12:08 PM ET | Comments (0)

The federal pay freeze: Will a brain drain follow?

Facing a ballooning deficit and a historic recession, Obama is doing the right thing by freezing the pay of federal workers for the next two years. But those who want sharply deeper cuts should make sure they know the unintended consequences that could surface. When the economy does turn around, and someday it will, more austere cuts to federal pay and benefits could prompt a brain drain of the best and brightest, no longer willing to pass up better pay to be physicians caring for wounded soldiers, scientists deciding which important research gets funded, or computer engineers monitoring cyber-terrorists.

By Jena McGregor | November 29, 2010; 02:32 PM ET | Comments (135)

Corporate profits hit highest record, so why aren't business leaders creating jobs?

This is not an economics blog, so I won't delve into the financial and policy details of whether it's government's or business's job to, well, create jobs. (It's both, of course.) But it is a leadership blog, and what's quickly becoming a fair question is whether CEOs are showing much of it at all when it comes to taking risks that lead to job creation.

By Jena McGregor | November 24, 2010; 07:52 AM ET | Comments (0)

The art of the announcement: Cuomo's charges against Obama's 'car czar'

The timing of Cuomo's announcement will certainly draw more awareness to the charges against Rattner. And indeed, the allegations against him are serious. Cuomo may, despite claims of coincidence, have decided it was in the public's best interest to be reminded of charges at a time when Rattner was already in the news, both for his work with GM and the SEC settlement.

By Jena McGregor | November 19, 2010; 10:46 AM ET | Comments (4)

Google: The risks of giving everyone a raise

Giving a 10 percent salary increase to every single Google employee probably won't do enough to retain the company's best and brightest. And in fact, it could backfire. The company's hardest-working, most irreplaceable people could think all that extra effort is for nothing if their less talented colleagues see the same uptick in pay they do. And that could have them running for the door even faster.

By Jena McGregor | November 10, 2010; 12:48 PM ET | Comments (24)

New survey: Wall Street bonuses will grow again this year

Wall Street bonuses are expected to increase yet again this year, albeit mildly, growing 5 percent, though with some segments, like asset management, seeing increases of up to 15 percent. Cue the gnashing of teeth and angry populace.

By Jena McGregor | November 5, 2010; 09:07 AM ET | Comments (27)

Does 'the first 100 days' concept really matter anymore?

In today's 24/7 news cycle, and with the country facing economic problems that require expedient and immediate change, a three-month grace period sounds about as archaic as FDR's fireside chats. If new elected leaders want to make an impact, they're going to have to act fast. And they're not going to get much forgiveness from a cable industry hungry for the first slip up or political gaffe.

By Jena McGregor | November 3, 2010; 09:57 AM ET | Comments (0)

What Warren got right

What Warren got right isn't necessarily the pick. It's the approach. For one, he's actually naming someone before he gets too old or too infirm to carry out the job. That may seem obvious, but so many companies don't get the simplest of all succession rules down. All too often, succession planning is something that happens after lightning strikes--be it performance woes, an embarrassing boardroom scandal or an unexpected illness or death.

By Jena McGregor | October 26, 2010; 10:45 AM ET | Comments (3)

The Tribune Co.'s leadership fiasco

A company ridden with as much debt as Tribune Co., which became the largest media company in history to file for bankruptcy, needs a decisive leader to get it out of its current morass. Four leaders, even if it's just temporary, could hurt the company more than they help.

By Jena McGregor | October 21, 2010; 12:00 PM ET | Comments (3)

Why BP's new bonus plan won't work

n an email, Dudley told employees that fourth-quarter bonuses would be based solely on the company's safety record, including "reducing operational risks" and "excellent safety and compliance standards." While existing bonus performance metrics would be honored for the first nine months of the year, the Wall Street Journal reports, safety will be the only measure for the fourth quarter. The problem? It won't work.

By Jena McGregor | October 20, 2010; 11:37 AM ET | Comments (0)

The hubris of Steve Jobs

I'm all for CEOs being a little more candid when it comes to discussing their competition. Some go out of their way to avoid even saying their rivals' names on the record (which can sound ridiculous), much less openly criticizing them. But there is such a thing as too much hubris--even for a company with results as stellar as Apple's--and a healthy respect for competitors should be something in every leader's lexicon. Most at least pretend they have it.

By Jena McGregor | October 19, 2010; 12:15 PM ET | Comments (23)

Goldman's new outsider

The most interesting move may be Goldman's hiring of Bess Joffe to be its new vice president of investor relations. Joffe, an attorney who worked for Hermes Equity Ownership Services until she was hired by Goldman recently, has been an advocate for better boards and improved pay and leadership practices, and her hiring was cheered by governance gurus like Charles Elson...

By Jena McGregor | October 18, 2010; 02:34 PM ET | Comments (2)

Wall Street's record-breaking paystubs: Pay for performance? Really?

Someday, hopefully, the financial industry will recognize that while a meritocracy matters, too much focus on rewarding supposed talent will keep creating as many risks as it does rewards.

By Jena McGregor | October 12, 2010; 10:42 AM ET | Comments (14)

Paying top dollar to snag a star performer? Big mistake

For years, companies--and Wall Street, especially--have been able to explain away outsized pay by saying it was the only way to attract the people it needed to perform at its best. Groysberg punches a big hole in that argument. Too bad banks like Wells Fargo and UBS didn't know it was there.

By Jena McGregor | October 11, 2010; 11:12 AM ET | Comments (11)

Apotheker? The HP head scratcher

Maybe it's a strategic stroke of genius, but I still think the decision is a head scratcher. Apotheker didn't have a great record at SAP, albeit during a rough time for the company. The more hierarchical German corporate culture is worlds away from an organization like HP, which helped give birth to Silicon Valley's dynamic innovative spirit.

By Jena McGregor | October 1, 2010; 02:01 PM ET | Comments (0)

Weekend reads: The books edition

Weekends reads is back after a hiatus, and just in time for the big fall leadership book season. It's October, the time of year when publishers roll out the tomes they hope will be the blockbuster books of the year.

By Jena McGregor | October 1, 2010; 09:26 AM ET | Comments (0)

Rating BP's management shakeup

New BP CEO Robert Dudley has not even officially started in his new job, and already he's making big changes. The incoming leader, who takes over Friday as CEO of a company struggling with the aftermath of a record oil spill, is ousting entrenched leaders, restructuring the organization and reassessing how employees earn their pay.

By Jena McGregor | September 30, 2010; 10:41 AM ET | Comments (5)

My coworker makes what?! (When knowing more is not a good thing)

One might argue, as HR gurus have, that knowing how you stand among your peers would make you motivated to perform better, in hopes of earning more. But the Berkeley and Princeton researchers argue the opposite.

By Jena McGregor | September 29, 2010; 11:47 AM ET | Comments (47)

Why the pay gap persists

The incredible persistence of the wage gap is a complex issue, one that involves all of the above issues in some way. But I'd argue that until leaders truly adopt family-friendly policies and workplaces--much progress has been made, but more is needed--and until more is done to support working mothers with greater childcare resources, the wage gap isn't likely to budge much more.

By Jena McGregor | September 28, 2010; 12:11 PM ET | Comments (49)

A bumpy ride in store for Southwest and AirTran

Kelly's task is extraordinary, and not just because he and his team have the unenviable task of navigating two sets of labor negotiations. Teaching AirTran people to think like Southwest associates will be no easy task, nor will getting Southwest employees to accept AirTran workers into their tightly knit fold.

By Jena McGregor | September 27, 2010; 01:30 PM ET | Comments (5)

The accidental managers

For those who've managed to keep a job through the crisis, the economic woes have meant a veritable pile-on of extra work, responsibilities and stress. Some see that as an opportunity. But plenty of others are quietly reeling from their vast new burdens and silently seething over their heavier loads.

By Jena McGregor | September 21, 2010; 11:03 AM ET | Comments (4)

Nokia's leadership overhaul

today, the company's chairman, Jorma Olilla, announced he would resign in 2012. Talk about a leadership overhaul. While Vanjoki's resignation may not have been part of a master plan, the company is clearly seeking new leadership to help rejuvenate the ailing giant.

By Jena McGregor | September 14, 2010; 11:51 AM ET | Comments (1)

Decoding Hurd's move to Oracle

The expected course for Mark Hurd would have been to leave the public company limelight altogether and camp out running a private equity owned technology firm. He'd rake in millions in the process, on top of his already lucrative severance package, and the press would forget all about Jodie Fisher, the contractor at the center of the scandal. Then, a few years from now, some public technology firm would be on the search for a corporate savior, at which point Hurd could ride back into Wall Street's spotlight, make a quick turnaround, and be the hero once again.

By Jena McGregor | September 6, 2010; 11:01 PM ET | Comments (8)

Can Anyone Really Run This Place?

No matter how much we like to turn our presidents and global CEOs into celebrities, no matter how much we prefer to reward heros and identify victims when large systems succeed or fail, and of course, no matter how powerful and transformative a good leader can be, there is a limit to what one person can do. But the answer is...

By Jena McGregor | September 2, 2010; 11:04 PM ET | Comments (65)

With Apple TV, Jobs speaks to the masses

If Steve Jobs doesn't create more products that appeal to Apple's tremendous mainstream fan base, the company's breathtaking growth could stall.

By Jena McGregor | September 2, 2010; 09:29 AM ET | Comments (26)

The lessons the government must learn from corporate workplaces

Simply sharing more about your team's status and direction is the best way to make people feel better about their jobs and their future, especially during times of uncertainty.

By Jena McGregor | August 31, 2010; 01:17 PM ET | Comments (2)

Speeding up Wall Street bonuses sends old message: Greed is good

Using the rationale that hurrying up bonuses is a not-to-be-missed opportunity, good leadership would also include changing established practice just to reap financial gain. Not to mention flouting authority and skirting the rules to meet your needs.

By Jena McGregor | August 30, 2010; 09:43 AM ET | Comments (16)

Netflix vacation policy is only the tip of a radical compensation iceberg

Operating under the idea that its engineers and professionals should be treated as adults, Netflix allows salaried employees to take as much vacation as they'd like.

By Jena McGregor | August 26, 2010; 11:51 AM ET | Comments (6)

The best way to rein in CEO pay

I'd argue that the only way executive pay will ever be reined in is to have a say not just on what CEOs make but also on the boards who are making the decisions.

By Jena McGregor | August 25, 2010; 07:41 PM ET | Comments (84)

Paranoia may have helped Lisa Murkowski

Overconfidence is a natural affliction of existing leaders. Those already in power believe they can win on their records, and that voters have better memories than they really do. They are fooled by their own success, overly assured about their position, and fall victim to that unfortunate byproduct of power: hubris.

By Jena McGregor | August 25, 2010; 10:43 AM ET | Comments (10)

Trouble on the horizon for Dell CEO?

But votes like this have a way of starting to erode that support. Twenty-five percent may not seem like much in Washington, but in the boardroom, that's a sizable lack of investor confidence. Patrick McGurn, a special counsel for ISS, told the Journal that "anything over 20% is something that boards take notice of."

By Jena McGregor | August 17, 2010; 08:11 PM ET | Comments (0)

What Mark Hurd and Charlie Rangel Have in Common

One left his post without a public fight, albeit with more than $35 million in his pockets. The other is battling the charges, setting up a potentially historic public trial. But both leaders would like their reputations back, thank you very much.

By Jena McGregor | August 11, 2010; 11:43 AM ET | Comments (4)

Google's soul-searching

How do two brilliant computer nerds who made their unofficial company motto "don't be evil" wrestle with the pressures to turn in ever greater growth?

By Jena McGregor | August 10, 2010; 12:39 PM ET | Comments (3)

Thaw in the salary freeze: Too little too late?

Leaders who keep their employees satisfied during the downturn are just as well-positioned, if not more so, to benefit when the economy rebounds. A happy workforce is more likely to waste less, create more and of course, stay longer, all of which saves much more in the end than a few years of not making 2% salary increases.

By Jena McGregor | August 4, 2010; 11:41 AM ET | Comments (3)

BP CEO Dudley: No shadow to step from

Leadership experts believe the hardest career move is succeeding a celebrated, charismatic chief, while your best bet is coming after a certified dud.

By Jena McGregor | August 2, 2010; 12:09 PM ET | Comments (1)

Toyota recall: Thou shalt not worship corporate idols

Toyota has long been lauded by leadership experts and held up as an ideal to follow. But what we learn from Toyota's recall failures is that it's not the leadership system that matters -- it's the leaders themselves.

By Jena McGregor | July 29, 2010; 11:33 AM ET | Comments (14)

Highest-paid CEOs: Why company founders are earning too much

Two of the top 25 best-paid CEOs are company founders, either in name or in spirit. In the end, these executives don't deserve the 'founder's premium.'

By Jena McGregor | July 27, 2010; 11:39 AM ET | Comments (4)

Microsoft: How financial reform is changing corporate governance

A Daily Beast story today claims that some senior Microsoft executives, unhappy with the share price under the leadership of Steve Ballmer, are secretly discussing an insurrection against the hard-charging CEO.

By Jena McGregor | July 22, 2010; 12:53 PM ET | Comments (8)

Why Steve Jobs gets a C+

The Apple CEO may have succeeded in dampening the hysteria about the antenna's design. But if we just consider the kind of leadership qualities Jobs displayed during the much-hyped press event, I can't give him much more than a C+.

By Jena McGregor | July 19, 2010; 07:00 AM ET | Comments (46)

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