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Thursday, August 23, 2018
Notations From the Grid (Special Edition): On Leadership
Our team took a moment to reflect upon leadership as we captured a praise from the SpaceX team for Elon Musk in the aftermath of the challenging times Telsa has to contend with in light of the moves by Elon Musk with this from the Fortune's Alan Murray:
Good morning. Time for Friday feedback. Several CEO Daily readers rose to my challenge in Wednesday’s piece on Elon Musk to answer the question: When in the history of business have the outspoken opponents of transparency and scrutiny turned out to be the good guys? GS came back with the most obvious example—indeed, the one Musk may be channeling—Steve Jobs. “I don’t know if Steve Jobs was a good guy, which depends on how you define what good guy means, also I don’t really care if he wasn’t. Good/bad can’t deny Apple under his leadership became one of the greatest companies in business history.” DS took a more historical view: “James Madison (and many other Founding Fathers) —The Constitutional Convention took place in secret to, in the words of Madison, ‘secure unbiased discussion within doors and to prevent misconceptions and misconstructions without.’” He also cited the “CEOs of State Farm, Dell, Mars, and America’s other successful private companies—Leaders who recognized the short-termism and distraction that a public listing can cause and either took their company private, or never went public in the first place.” And MM put two Titans from the Gilded Age on the table: “Although it is arguable whether John D. Rockefeller was a good guy or not, Standard Oil improved the quality of oil and reduced costs for consumers. Standard was highly secretive and did not like inquisition or any type of scrutiny. JP Morgan in its early days is another example worth considering. Highly private, shunned any kind of scrutiny, but set the standards for banking conduct in a way that raised the bar.” All good responses. I feel privileged to have such thoughtful readers. (My Twitter feedback on this same subject was less enlightening.) But from the investors’ perspective, I still think there is much to be said for CEOs who embrace transparency and who welcome, or at least tolerate, scrutiny. And if you want a frightening example of what can happen when they don’t, read John Carreyrou’s Bad Blood. Enjoy the weekend. News below.