How Hiring Corporate Executives Could Improve in a Heartbeat


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It has always been a mystery to me why certain chief executive officers do such a poor job hiring key executives for their management teams.

A lot of folks would agree with the idea that a company's performance (or lack thereof) starts at the top with its key officers and trickles down through managers at different levels to the professional (or less professional) staff members.

Harry Truman became more famous as America's 33rd President when he popularized such phrases as "The buck stops here" and "If you can't stand the heat, get out of the kitchen. " Truman understood a thing or two about taking responsibility for the performance of an organization (or a business).

Truman, a Midwest boy born and bred in Missouri, was a folksy, unassuming president who was forced out of his re-election campaign in 1952, and left office as one of the most unpopular chief executives in history.

Historical scholars, however, have treated Truman more kindly in polls ranking the Presidents. He has never been listed lower than ninth, and was most recently ranked seventh in a 2005 Wall Street Journal poll. The primary reasons? His honesty, integrity, political courage, and firm stance for Western democracy after World War II.

Harry Truman was a leader who took responsibility for his actions and decisions. Far too many "leaders" of major corporations today are much more interested in "cooking" the books, increasing the company's stock value, and then sucking out non-existent profits from a losing business.

The losers in the latter case are the stockholders, employees, the company itself, and its image and standing among consumers and watchdog organizations. You do not see major businesses weigh in on these dastardly practices (perhaps because they are too afraid they will be the next ones caught with their hand in the cookie jar).

The high profile cases like Enron have gotten the lion's share of negative publicity. Few consumers are aware that when their government gave major corporations a grace period to rewrite their books before they came after them, an inordinate amount (one report says half) of corporate "leaders" went running to their chief financial officers faster than you could say "lickety split. "

The number of corporate executives seeking to cover their tracks due to their self-absorbed, self-centered and greedy nature was sickening, and a poor testament to the face of corporate America today. Many are nothing but thieves and crooks, and should be treated as such (a few have).

There is no reasonable justification for this kind of behavior by supposed "business leaders" in our economy. Their egotistical shortsightedness tears at the very fabric of our society. Many of these "business leaders" (they are not leaders at all) have surrounded themselves with people of their own ilk.

How has this happened? I submit that one reason is because chief executive officers (and sometimes even with the support of their board of director members) spend company money and the stockholders’ equity in the hiring process.

So? Isn't that business? Isn't that how business is conducted?

That may be business as usual, but it does not excuse the behavior and subsequent results in the hiring process.

And the cure? How about a new approach for corporate America? (I will do anything to start a dialogue. ) What if the chief executive officers had to hire their key people with money out of their own pocket? Some of these chief executive officers are certainly paid enough to afford the investment.

You better believe their judgment and discretion would improve in a hurry. That is the complaint (and rightly so) of majority stockholders who get ripped off by these common thieves who plunder the company coffers to line their own pockets at everyone's expense but theirs.

Copyright © 2006 Ed Bagley

Ed Bagley is the author of Ed Bagley's Blog, which he publishes daily with fresh, original writing intended to delight, inform, educate and motivate readers. Visit Ed at . . .


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