It's not easy being a daily columnist.
Some days, you gotta call in sick.
Otherwise, all you're left to you can do is regurgitate a bogus pop-social science study and hammer on a half-relevant concluding paragraph to justify the previous 12.
But it sucks when the columnist's bad day concerns a subject you actually care about.
To wit, today's David Brooks column, in The New York Times. Brooks cites a new study that tells us what we already know about CEOs and fails to account for the exceptions that prove the rule:
measured their companies’ performances. They found that strong people
skills correlate loosely or not at all with being a good C.E.O. Traits
like being a good listener, a good team builder, an enthusiastic
colleague, a great communicator do not seem to be very important when
it comes to leading successful companies.
What mattered, it
turned out, were execution and organizational skills. The traits that
correlated most powerfully with success were attention to detail,
persistence, efficiency, analytic thoroughness and the ability to work
(Yes, yes. Better to have a humorless bean-counter than a mindless cheerleader. But what about Jack Welch?)
Brooks elaborates (and elaborates) on this theme, until he gets to the bottom of his column and with 150 words to go, appears to realize in a panic: Hey, what the hell does this column have to do with the milqutoast conservative political view that my readers come to me to have legitimized every day?
And so we get this odd last paragraph, saying that the requirements that CEOs be dull and boring is "changing." Why?
interposing itself in the management culture of industry after
industry. It won’t be the regulations that will be costly, but the
revolution in values. When Washington is a profit center, C.E.O.’s are
forced to adopt the traits of politicians. That is the insidious way
that other nations have lost their competitive edge.
Ah, finally an explanation for those hordes of hilarious, persuasive, charismatic German, British and French CEOs who don't know the difference between accounts payable and accounts receivable.
David Brooks, what in God's name are you talking about? You don't know yourself, do you?
You shoulda called in sick.