Comment on Why Many CEOs Can’t Build Legacies Anymore

Why Many CEOs Can’t Build Legacies Anymore
by Thomas J. Saporito | 11:00 AM August 9, 2012

My friend JoAnne O’Brien-Levin reviewed this article and gave me her view as follows:

As I read this, I saw what the writer describes as emblematic of the larger sea change that has been pervading business culture for a long time now. In each of the three examples they give, it’s relationships that are being replaced by impersonal transactions. First, it’s the CEO’s relationship with the company that goes away: He/she is brought in from the outside; he/she can’t build a legacy. Then it’s the senior team that no longer bonds with one another.

This seems on the surface to be more efficient, a better response to the speed of change and demands of market/shareholders, but I wonder if it is truly functional, let alone sustainable? If relationships don’t matter at the top, then they won’t matter at the bottom–with customers, suppliers, etc.

At the same time this is happening, there seems to be an increasing realization that relationships are core to the way the Universe functions; they’re fundamental to its nature.

“Collaboration is essential to survival; collaboration is dependent upon relationships. So is this trend actually running in opposition to the way the world/Universe works? If so, what’s to be done?” – JoAnne O’Brien-Levin

I agree with JoAnne and like to follow-up:

In my view to your questions, it is more a matter of ability to react and move. I have seen that the larger companies get so lethargic that they can’t move, they are so stuck in their old industrial-age paradigms and have an entitlement culture, that the sea-change is visible to them but they don’t know what to do with it. At one of our large clients I see that they feel they should be treated in some way because they are big. That does not work for the employees and they leave.

Turnover is increasing. More than 50% of the employees are over 40 years old and the new hires don’t stay. When the economy recovers they run away even faster because the culture is toxic and old fashioned.

I think we are at the beginning of the automobile age in business when a lot of the biggest players are still working in the horse-buggy paradigm. Critical mass hasn’t been reached, many of the roads and highways haven’t been built yet, and the technology and relationship development practices still have a lot of innovation ahead of themselves.

Still, if I had to choose, I rather improve automobiles than preserve horse buggies.

Axel Meierhoefer


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