In a Financial Times article today, Unilever CEO Paul Polman said this, about how he's reshaping his company:
“If there’s a lot of wind, even the turkeys can fly. If there’s no wind, only the eagle can fly. I know what I want to be.”
A windbag, who makes his own.
“Reshaping”??? Is that the new euphemism for “giving the boot to a bunch of employees so we can cut costs and please the shareholders”??? How quaint.
Here’s my question – is Mr. CEO forgoing HIS raise and bonus this year to help build “the wind beneath their wings”?
David Murray says
Okay, “reshaping” is a term that was in the FT story that I should not have repeated. Writing for writers requires vigilance.
Even more obnoxious than the “wind” quote was Polman’s remark that he’s “very pleased” to be taking over the company at this particular moment:
“If I had come in as a new CEO and everything was handy dandy and I said: ‘I will set the bar higher,’ people would say: ‘Okay, that’s a new rallying cry, but what is it based on?’”
Glad we were able to arrange this global economic crisis to fit your strategic plan.
Paul Polman: Today’s Worst CEO in the World!
So when times are good, was Unilever a turkey or an eagle? And I like how he says “I know what I want to be” – “I” rather than “we” or “the company” because he’s maybe not at all concerned about the company but rather about how high he gets to fly.
I’m sure this warmed the hearts of Unilever employees everywhere. Better to be axed by an eagle than a turkey, I suppose.
I like the “Today’s Worst CEO” idea, David. You should make this a daily thing. I’m sure you won’t lack for material.
Joan H. says
I once worked for a CEO who told me, “I wish everyone in the company could be me.”
Now there’s a thought.
David Murray says
Joan, that’s how many of them think. If everybody saw the world exactly as I do everything would be perfect.
When people talk about brilliance in CEOs–and of course it exists–they often fail to acknowledge preposterous amounts of warped perspective, tunnel vision and unwisdom amounting to a kind of real intellectual retardation.
Hmmmm. “Preposterous Retardation” I like that. It’s an excellent descriptor for the many myopic CEOs. Interestingly, the acronym for that would be…
Oh, never mind!