At a time when there are more visible CEOs in courtrooms than in recent memory, the title and subtitle of this book, It Takes A CEO: It’s Time to Lead With Integrity, seems, well, somewhat mixed. Yes, it’s time to lead with integrity. But is the CEO the right person to do it? Well, Hindery has been there (president or CEO of five corporations), so it isn’t like he’s just speaking from the sidelines. He’s been in the game. He writes, “The CEO’s job touches on three constituencies: employees, shareholders, and community.” Note the order he places them in. Hindery writes of the offshoring that is occurring, “Some of this offshoring has been a legitimate competitive necessity. But some of it reflects laziness and cowardice on the part of American corporate executives. Chase the lowest wage rates, wherever they may be in the world, according to this mind-set. That’s the best short-term thing for my shareholders, offshoring executives tell themselves, so it must be the best thing, period.” He also takes politicians to task for allowing the American worker to have to compete against workers in countries where the level of wages and protection are absurdly low. Clearly, in Hindery’s book it takes more than a CEO—it takes guts.
The issue is management and leadership. Management of the tasks at hand, but leadership to bring the organization to where it needs to be in the future. It is one where the leader works to see that the concerns of the employees, shareholders and community are taken into account, not personal interests, which seems to be the thing that has gotten so many CEOs and other upper-level execs in trouble of late.
As the phrase has it: “No guts, no glory.” We haven’t seen a whole lot of glory from CEOs. And U.S. industry needs it now, like never before.—GSV