Leadership Lessons | Are Incentives the Cornerstone of Life?

Does your incentive program REALLY drive performance?

You probably know someone, don’t you, who is a star performer who believes that her achievements go unrewarded?

If so, you probably also know an underachiever who gets more than he deserves.I

s there any greater disincentive to the high performer than knowing that under-performance seems to be equally rewarded?

Should there be a moratorium on bonuses?

I’ve talked about the value of incentives before, but it keeps coming to mind as I talk to senior executives who don’t seem to have spent any time at all considering whether their incentive plans are working as intended … or whether they need to be revised.

In some ways, it reminds me of the comment that Bloomberg attributed to Barney Frank, chairman of the House Financial Services Committee, during the $20 billion bonus scandals during the 2008-2009 financial meltdown.

According to Bloomberg, this was his comment … (more…)

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Leadership Styles: The Smartest Guys in the Room can kill you!

When a fellow says it hain’t the money but the principle o’ the thing, it’s th’ money.” — Frank McKinney

‘Always ask why.  Dig deeper.  Get the facts.’ Avoid the crowd mentality

“Ask Why” was their motto.

“Wheel Out,” “Fat Boy” “Death Star” and “Get Shorty” were some of the nicknames applied to their strategies.

Confirmation letters of successful trades were addressed to names like “Mr. M. Yass and “Mr. M. Smart” … and I think you can parse the underlying contempt.

“Rank & Yank” described their people performance system, “Pump and Dump” their trading strategy.

About $70 billion of market value was destroyed, more than 20,000 employees lost their jobs and pension funds worth $3.2 billion were destroyed, more than two thirds of which belonged to retirees with little chance to rebuild.

I had always intended to watch “The Smartest Guys in the Room,” the 2005 movie based on a book by the same name from co-authors Peter Elking and Bethany McLean, but it got lost in the shuffle until last week.

It chronicles the Enron cataclysm, whose meteoric ascent was violently terminated with its bankruptcy on Dec. 3, 2001.

“Be like Enron” is still an ignominious curse

It’s hard to believe this happened almost 10 years ago since to be “like Enron” still reverberates as an ignominious curse. It’s really more like a viral infection, though, because so many of the forces that drove its destruction have cleaved similar fissures in scandals from (more…)

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Do we need a Federal Escrow Fund?

I’m sure this will be a popular post … but set aside your emotions for a moment about the BP disaster… and consider the insistence by the federal government that an independent agency take over the claims resulting from the oil spill,  purportedly overriding BP’s authority, and that of the other 12 entities on board the oil platform, in those matters. The suggested prototype is the independent examiner appointed to handle claims resulting from the events of 9/11 … but recognize that those events were NOT directly caused by a legal entity with rights and responsibilities and shareholders, or that was subject to a myriad of legitimate national and international governing bodies.

Who should decide how much to pay whom for oil spill claims?

What I wonder is whether BP … in most cases, any corporation … shouldn’t have some rights and control over the claims paid from funds ultimately belonging to their shareholders? Take special note that in BPs case, a powerful example of the global economy in which we live, 18 million British citizens own stock in BP, many of them retirees.

Emotions are running high and many people would prefer to see BP hanging from the nearest rafter. At the same time, shouldn’t a company be allowed to settle claims in a fair and reasonable manner? There are plenty of ways in which individuals and organizations can seek redress if they disagree on the results, either through appeal or in claims or civil courts if a reasonable settlement cannot be made.

What paperwork? (more…)

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