Archive for the ‘Leadership’ Category
Tough sanctions by the NCAA, but still unsatisfying. Probably no penalty would have satisfied, even the death penalty. Somehow, though, the NCAA comes off badly, perhaps because so many presidents passed the buck to Emmert.
For the football team, I still think the NCAA and the school should have: kept the statue at PSU, and team got the death penalty. Colin Cowherd of ESPN got the statue question right — keeping it would have warned PSU (and many others) not to foist godliness upon mortal, fallible men. Juxtaposing that reminder with the death penalty – “This is the man you loved, but he helped destroy his and your football program” — would not have helped with the healing at PSU, but it would have powerfully reminded many other schools to shine cleansing daylight upon all corners of their worlds, including athletic teams.
As an aside, ‘healing’ at Penn State doesn’t matter a whit. The healing of the victims– as much as possible in this case — does. But how silly to think that a senior at PSU, whose view of Coach Paterno has shattered and who now faces a far less boisterous last year at the school because of the penalties, needs “healing”. Ridiculous.
With regards to Paterno, the NCAA sanctions do somehow seem appropriate. For years, observers bemoaned his remaining the coach. In hindsight, those commentators appear both right and wrong. Right, because they perceived something had gone wrong. Wrong, because they worried whether Coach Paterno, as he aged, could maintain control of the program. We now know he exercised far too much control on it, and on the university at large.
Finally, I empathetically repeat my Facebook post from July 12: “Penn State Trustees: You are all pieces of shit. If you had any decency left, you’d give up your cushy, esteemed posts and let better men and women assume the mantle of leadership to restore the university’s good name.”
PBS’ new installment of The American Experience: the Presidents, a biography of 42nd President of the United States, William Jefferson Clinton, feels more like a drama than history. Clinton paints a picture of a highly improbable president, born famously into impoverished circumstances in Hope, Arkansas, with a father who died before his birth and an alcoholic stepfather who beat his mother in front of the children. Consequently, Clinton threw all of his efforts into his studies, laboring to redeem and rescue his family, and substituting a broken home life for an ersatz, popular persona at school. Such a stratagem recurs throughout Clinton’s life: when situations become tough, Clinton pretends as though they are not happening.
Late in 2010, I began writing a journal every day, having abandoned the practice several years ago. Going full-time on Chiefist prompted me to start again. As my friends know, I like, use and admire high quality products, preferring a nice fountain pen to a Bic any day. So I looked around for a nice journal, and found an outstanding one in the Col. Littleton No. 9 Journal. Read the rest of this entry »
This article in the New York Times caught my eye. Shrinking unemployment numbers—now at 8.3% nationally—are a product of improved private sector hiring, but also of young people dropping out of the workforce in droves, some of them seeking refuge in graduate school. Yet, women find themselves more likely to enroll in graduate school and certificate/training programs than are their male counterparts. Are women more ambitious than their male counterparts of today? There exist now—for the first time in three decades—more young women in school than in the work force. The article summarizes the trend as follows: “Though young women in their late teens and early 20’s view today’s economic lull as an opportunity to upgrade their skills, their male counterparts are more likely to take whatever job they can find.” Read the rest of this entry »
My uncle recommended Boone: A Biography by Robert Morgan to me. Morgan has crafted that rare biography in which the critical lessons of the subject do not become lost in the details of his life. Indeed, Morgan evokes those lessons in the best pieces of writing in the book; the lessons seem to haunt the pages. Read the rest of this entry »
My brother and his wife gave me the Lonesome Dove miniseries for Christmas. They love it, and knowing my enjoyment of Westerns, thought I would too. Their gift stirred my interest in reading the book, which I determined to do before watching the miniseries. Read the rest of this entry »
Our nation faces a crushing burden of debt from an entitlement state that continues to accrete power in ways unknown to most people. We face the debt burden with a Congress full of unprecedented partisan rancor and a leadership deficit where very few are willing to rise above the fray and propose bold solutions. Indeed, the Congress offered only one solution to the budget and entitlement crisis, Representative Paul Ryan’s (R-WI) budget plan. The US Senate decided it would not attempt to pass a budget this year—for the second straight year—and the President only gave one speech on the budget, which has not assumed legislative form (the Congressional Budget Office, the non-partisan agency charged with formally scoring legislation, cannot score speeches). To make matters worse, the President invited Representative Paul Ryan to his speech at George Washington University, only to call his plan “unserious” and “uncourageous” after seating Ryan in the first row—just when the GOP expected an olive branch on debt and deficit reduction. Read the rest of this entry »
Most of our clients and subscribers have a keen interest in leadership. As investors, you must judge leaders – their abilities, skills, character and performance. As leaders in your firms, you must motivate your teams, make critical decisions and find ways to differentiate your firm and services in a crowded, competitive industry.
At Chiefist, we primarily serve clients in that first role. With our analytical tools, executive profiles and searches, and actionable trading ideas, we support the appraisal of corporate leadership as a key element of investment due diligence. But more broadly, we aid clients by offering unique ideas. And when we find a good leadership idea, we would be remiss not to share it — in this case, a book of fascinating ideas.
In Leading & Leadership, editor Timothy Fuller surveys some of history’s greatest thinking on the subject of leadership. He includes writings from Confucius, Homer, Plato, Machiavelli, Aquinas, Washington, Tocqueville, Frederick Douglass and Woodrow Wilson. It also contains important contributions from modern writers, including Ronald Glassman and Abraham Zaleznik. (Future editions would benefit from adding William Deresiewicz’s excellent speech, “Solitude and Leadership”.)
The book contains much wisdom about the characteristics and ethos of leadership. Every executive should read Zaleznik on “Managers and Leaders: Are They Different?” Washington’s “Farewell Address” should serve as a model for thoughtful succession transitions. The tension between Machiavelli’s and Aquinas’s conceptions of leadership are played out in organizations every day.
Individual readers will of course find their favorites among the chapters. Taken as a whole, the book offers a useful and needed counterweight to today’s often vacuous prattle on the subject. Our study of leadership needs practical advice, analysis of hard numbers and modern examples. But it also requires philosophical reflection, reasoned and dispassionate consideration, and a historical perspective. What emerges is a powerful reminder of the complexities and nuances of leadership. That reminder can only help us both to better evaluate the leaders in investments we’re considering, and to more effectively lead our own organizations.