Leven’s Conscience

I just read a WSJ article entitled “Good Leadership Requires Executives To Put Themselves Last,” and I guess I did not get it because I do not think the author’s example put himself last.  The article starts out with a good quote,

“Good governance depends primarily on leaders who put integrity and the interests of their companies ahead of their self-interests.  These executives are willing to grapple with difficult decisions that may involve personal sacrifice.”

The article then goes into describing some examples involving Michael Leven, chairman and CEO of US Franchise Systems.  The first example was Leven saw his company was not going to make it’s year end earnings and he announced it; thus, plummeting the stock prices.  Leven did not have to announce it because the numbers were not due for another 4 months.  The second example happened before that incident when he was president of Days Inn.  He found some irregularities in accounting and it ended up being the owners were stealing from the company.  He confronted them about it and they fixed it, but then it happened again and he just quit.  Days Inn went bankrupt and the owners were arrested.

Both of his actions, I believe, were selfish.  I believe that in the first example Leven’s conscience got the best of him and he had to tell everyone they were not going to make the year-end projections.  While the second example he, in my eyes, hid under a rock and quit when he found out the owners were stealing.  Both of those situations probably cost a lot of people their jobs.  Instead of trying harder to meet the year-end projections, he did something that probably pissed off the board and he probably had to cut jobs to make up for the earnings.  Secondly, instead of ratting out the owners of Days Inn to the Securities and Exchange Commission, he let Days Inn go bankrupt.  That probably ended up costing a lot of people their jobs, except for the select few who were hired back by the future owners.

Another thing I did not like was why didn’t Leven accept a severance?  The owners were stealing money, he wasn’t.  He did nothing wrong and he should of taken it because he went 6 months before getting another job that paid less.  I guess he thought that was the right thing to do because the article ends with him explaining his anger towards CEOs who accept compensation packages when employees are losing their jobs or getting pay cuts.  If that is the case, I believe even stronger that he should have taken down the owners of Days Inn, and saved his “baby.”


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