The Failed CEO
A struggling company interviewed for its CEO position a few years back. One of the potential candidates, an ambitious upper-level manager, convinced the board he could turn things around. Since the guy had risen from entry-level to mid-management to upper-management in a short amount of time, he was heralded as a rising star.
Despite never having headed any company before, he promised he would restore its previous financial strength, straighten out the poor business practices plaguing the company, increase production and even improve the company’s public relations in the global marketplace.
As a cherry on top, he pledged to make sure every employee and shareholder had a great benefits package, the cost of which would be covered by the company.
The hot-shot candidate was touted as the greatest thing since sliced bread, and despite a large number of shareholders who vigorously opposed hiring him for such a critical position, he was awarded the CEO job.
From the moment he got the keys to the executive washroom, he started making excuses. The balance sheet didn’t spring back to health the second he took the helm, but that was his predecessor’s fault. After all, the last CEO had nearly a decade to run the company into the ground. He didn’t cause the problem, he was just dealing with the mess he’d inherited.
Not only did he not improved the company’s finances, but during the first couple of years in command, he doubled the company’s skyrocketing debt. In fact, he increased it so much that every shareholder and their families would have to scrape up a good sum of investment money to cover the mistakes for decades to come.
However, despite the deepening shortfall of revenue, the CEO insisted the benefits package be pushed through. The plan would force every shareholder to invest in the package, and an additional penalty fee would be placed on all shareholders who chose not to opt-in to the program.
Working with a vocal majority of the board of directors who supported his plans, he forced a vote on the benefits package. Not surprisingly, his supporters on the board gave the approval. During the next board of directors’ election, many of those who had approved the measure were fired by the angered shareholders.
Still, the CEO doggedly charged ahead with his plan, implementing parts of it before the shareholders and new board of directors could review the intricate provisions in the plan’s playbook. He tried to explain away the lack of broad support as an problem in communications. The shareholders just didn’t get it, because he didn’t ‘communicate’ clearly what he was trying to do with the company.
In a couple of years, even those shareholders that had vociferously supported the new CEO, who thought he was the greatest thing since sliced bread, began to realize they’d been duped. They’d fallen prey to the hype and the smooth words of the CEO, believing their lives would be easier.
This guy had sold them on his great plan for the company. He said they’d get a great return on investment, high dividends and really get their communities on solid footing again. Jobs would come back. People would get back to earning a living. Other companies would like them, want to do business with them. Life would be good again.
Instead, under this CEO, the company’s debt doubled within four years. Production costs went through the roof. Layoffs plagued every corner of the company. More jobs were lost, very few created. Seen as losing its momentum, the company’s public image in the global marketplace was even further diminished. Several of the top management team he’d brought in have resigned in disgrace or ‘sought other employment opportunities’ when it was discovered they’d been working against the company’s purposes.
People in the company, and those who had enjoyed the products and services offered in other markets, began to question if the company would even be able to continue to operate. Would it go bankrupt? Would it be bought out by outside investors? The competition sat poised to take on the previous customers and possibly to acquire the company through hostile takeover.
Yet through it all, the CEO insisted everything is going well, a position to which he adheres to this day. Jobs are being created, he states, despite the number of shareholders who can’t find work, can’t find enough work, or have simply given up trying.
We’ll be able to pay for it all, he states, despite the continued financial black hole the company is being sucked into due to his direction in company policy.
These policies will be good for everyone, he states, despite the number of experts in the field who have shown realistic numbers and projections to the contrary.
At every turn, this CEO ignores the shareholders’ wishes, deflects any criticism of his performance with paranoia (they don’t follow along with his plans because they’re out to get him personally), and remains apparently oblivious to the worsening situation for which his very own policies are responsible.
In a few months, the shareholders again will meet for a performance review of the CEO. The current occupant of the job is hoping the shareholders will renew his contract, which expires at the end of the year. A portion of the board of directors are worried about their jobs.
And the shareholders are growing weary of the same promises and policies that not only don’t pan out, but which put their livelihood in jeopardy.
Honestly, how long would any sensible company have waited to fire this kind of poor performance? Even given the four-year cycle, could an executive, privileged or not, expect to hang on to his job after the debacle of the past four years?
Like in a lot of companies, the shareholders of the United States often skip the shareholders’ meeting – election day – choosing instead to let others make critical decisions that will guide the course of the country. We can’t afford to let this happen in the 2012 election. I’ve heard several people say they just weren’t going to vote because ‘their candidate’ dropped out of the primary. If the past four years are any indication, we can’t afford to let our country remain in Obama’s hands for four more years. We must get the word out, get our complacent shareholders involved and voting.
Come November, I think it’s only fair to send Barack Obama a form letter the likes of which many of us, who trying to find jobs in the economy he promised to make better, have received during the past four years of his tenure:
November 6, 2012
To: Barack H. Obama
1600 Pennsylvania Ave.
RE: Employment Opportunities at United States of America
Dear Mr. B. Obama:
Thank you for your continued interest in the ___Chief Executive Officer___ position. We have reviewed your resume and work history and have come to a final decision.
We have spent four years reviewing your qualifications in depth. However, given your past work history we have decided to hire another, highly-qualified candidate for this challenging position at this time.
As a result, we regret to inform you we will no longer need your services. You will have until ___January 20, 2013___ to vacate your current office space.
We apologize for any temporary inconvenience this may cause you financially, and would like to extend career retraining advice to help you find your next exciting position.
Based on your skills evaluation, the following careers may be of interest to you.
• Community organizer
• Golf course manager
• Fiction writer
• Serpentine lubricant marketing associate
Please contact your local employment agency for openings in these or other interesting career fields for which you may already be qualified. Should you feel you need additional skills training, please contact your nearest Workforce Development Center for a list of vocational and educational options. You may be qualified for financial aid.
Thank you for your interest, and best of luck in your future career endeavors.
We The People, Shareholders of the United States of America
P.S. We were listening when you expressed your disdain for ‘the golden parachutes’ of executives who squandered the shareholders’ hard-earned investments, when you spoke out tirelessly to eliminate ‘obscene’ bonuses and severance packages for executives whose companies failed under their watch, and when you supported ‘green’ measures even at the cost of adding more debt to our ailing company.
That considered, we felt it only right as a final act of appreciation for your services, to plant a tree in your name in lieu of the Presidential Retirement package. Please contact us for the species of trees available for this honor.