Leaders & Laggards

“Leaders & Laggards” will examine individuals who have used strong views and values to impact positive action versus those who have not.


Charles Prince, Chairman & CEO, Citigroup. Prince has guided the poster child for Wall Street malfeasance back to respectability through both words and actions. His commitment to ethics via a five-point plan called, “Our Shared Responsibilities” has produced a sense that Citigroup is serious about restoring trust and credibility to the company’s sprawling brand. Prince also is matching these words with individual action through a range of related involvements and business gestures.

A.G. Lafley, Chairman & CEO, Proctor & Gamble. Lafley has taken P&G’s performance to new levels while emphasizing to multiple stakeholders how they’re becoming a “connect and develop” company vs. an “invent from within” company. Nowhere is that more relevant than the company’s $54 billion acquisition of Gillette and subsequent communications describing what the new combination will offer customers.

Martha Stewart. Ok, so prison has a way of straightening out even the most domesticated. Stewart, however, has done an about face with her own standing, which had previously been left in lawyers’ hands. Stewart’s re-emergence points to a fundamental principle: If you’re headed for trouble or an out-of-touch period, make sure there’s something reliable — product, service or memorable characteristic — that customers can fall back on during an interim period.


Derek Smith, Chairman and CEO, ChoicePoint. SEC & federal investigations, insider selling when the *&^% was hitting the fan, customer complaints, litigation, etc. Did it really have to be this way? And how come the company’s board hasn’t fired Smith or held itself accountable for the mess? For a company that doesn’t understand trust — not customer information — is its core asset, something desperately needs to give in this situation.

Bernie Ebbers and Scott Sullivan, former WorldCom villains. Here’s hoping these two clowns both get life sentences for dragging everyone back through their hopeless saga. It probably won’t happen, but if there was a lagging indicator in the market that no one wants to claim, then it’s the daily Executives on Trial drama.

Harry Stonecipher, President and CEO, Boeing. Make that former President and CEO. Lured out of retirement to help restore Boeing’s standing, Stonecipher has been fired for having an extramarital affair with a female employee. Ironically, he had been brought in to restore the company’s standing following previous scandals. Can we say ridiculously bad judgment? Congratulations to the company’s board for taking prompt action.