Raising the level of your leadership

Business Execs Rank Below Everyone…Except Lawyers

Thumbs DownThe military ranked first. Lawyers ranked last. Business executives were ranked only one notch above lawyers. The question was: How much do you think __________ contribute to the well-being of our society? The choices were:

  • A lot
  • Some
  • Not very much
  • Nothing at all.

The results of the Pew Research Center survey (4006 adults, April-May 2013) were:

  1. Military
  2. Teachers
  3. Medical Doctors
  4. Scientists
  5. Engineers
  6. Clergy
  7. Artists
  8. Journalists
  9. Business Executives
  10. Lawyers

You may be wondering, What about the politicians? Well, since many of them are lawyers….

I don’t want to argue with the results, but let me suggest that business execs (of which I have been one) deserve this rating because of highly public self-inflicted wounds. Every day, the WSJ and other business news outlets are reporting on business executive misbehavior:

  • Executives sell stock (in violation of insider trading laws) just before announcing bankruptcy.
  • A CEO is ousted for weak stock performance, but walks away with a $90M (yes, that means millions) exit package.
  • Executive bonuses were increased because earnings per share were increased by borrowing money to buy back stock. (Operating results were not improved and the balance sheet was damaged by added debt.)
  • Customers are cheated out of earned rebates because executives allowed a culture of profit is more important than values.

I am saddened by the constant attack on capitalism in America today. But there is an easy way to stop it—operate businesses with integrity, values, a purpose greater than profit, and for the well-being of all stakeholders (owners, customers, employees and community), not just a few at the top. In other words, get out of the headlines!

I am not sure that business executives can ever rank higher than the military or doctors or clergy. But surely by conducting our affairs in an honest and balanced way, we could move up the list. If you are a business leader, it’s up to you. No one else is going to do it.

I would love to hear your comments about this subject.

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© Copyright 2013 by Dick Wells, The Hard Lessons Company

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