Friday, February 12, 2010

It's Good to Be Bad Again

I was really happy a number of years ago when "Chainsaw" Al Dunlap got his. If you don't remember Chainsaw Al, he was one of the CEOs who was popular in the "it pays to be bad" era. Back in the day when Fortune magazine regularly lionized the 10 toughest bosses in America. Chainsaw Al was one of those who believed in ripping up a company, wiping out careers, and destroying communities, to make the stock market happy. It made him a lot of money, until one day it didn't and then everybody agreed that Chainsaw Al had been a pretty bad guy.
Now the New York Times brings us George Cloutier, author of "Profits Aren't Everything, They're the Only Thing." For some reason the Times wants us to know that Tablesaw George (he was in the small business section of the Times) thinks that "fear is the best motivator." He's proud of the fact that an employee who worked for him for 10 years wrote that "If I fell dead at my desk, George wouldn't notice for two days."
Now I don't know George. I've never met George.
But I wouldn't want to work for George. And I wouldn't advise anyone I know to work for George.
Why not?
Because George is wrong. He's wrong about what matters in business. He's wrong about how to treat people. He's wrong about what builds a successful organization and he's even wrong about what it takes to get the best results in business. He's wrong about just about everything that comes out of his mouth.
He is the perfect negative example of everything I wrote about in Rules of Thumb. The subtitle of his book ought to be, "How to Win at Business While Guaranteeing that You Lose Your Self--and Go Through at Least Three Wives."
Why is this guy featured in the New York Times?
Is it good to be bad again? Is cynicism the new idealism?
Your guess is as good as mine.
But I can tell you this.
Not only would I not work for a jerk, but when a jerk advises things like George does, I can promise you, it won't work.

All Rights Reserved 2009 (c) Alan Webber, Rules Of Thumb