Earlier in March, Fortune Magazine posted an article title The World’s 19 Most Disappointing Leaders. The countdown to it was quite interesting, although some of them more relevant to the residents of the United States (as there are a few US politicians in there), especially the business leaders of emerging and well known tech companies. Here are a few that I found quite interesting:
The Burned Rubber Prize
Martin Winterkorn, former chairman of Volkswagen
Winterkorn led VW during most of the behavior that led to a disastrous scandal (which is far from over), as company engineers installed software that manipulated emissions on about 11 million diesel vehicles. Winterkorn has asserted ignorance of any wrongdoing. Critics have been skeptical, given that he is known as a micro-manager. Then there’s the fact that the company has acknowledged that, at least in the latter stages, a warning of potential wrongdoing was sent to him. VW was known for a ruthless culture and, under Winterkorn, an ambition to become the world’s largest automaker. The combination proved toxic in the case of its emissions cheating.
The Black Box Award
Elizabeth Holmes, founder of Theranos
Once a Silicon Valley wunderkind, Holmes leads a startup that seeks to disrupt health care by offering cheaper and less invasive blood tests. But Theranos’s reputation has wilted under heavy scrutiny. After an investigative report by the Wall Street Journal cast doubt on some of the company’s key claims, Holmes continued to defend Theranos’ testing and methods—all while refusing to allow outside scientific scrutiny or peer review. Meanwhile she was unable to keep one of her company’s two labs in minimally acceptable order, according to findings by federal regulators. They concluded that the lab suffered from five “serious deficiencies,” one of which “posed immediate jeopardy to patient health and safety.
The Shkreli Prize
Martin Shkreli, founder and former CEO of Turing Pharmaceuticals
So striking was Martin Shkreli’s performance in the past year that he is the first person to merit having a category named after himself. Shkreli is way smarter than you are (just ask him). He’s so brilliant that he hatched a strategy to buy cheap drugs, sell them at astronomical mark-ups, proudly embrace a role as the Snidely Whiplash of pharmaceuticals, attract searing national scrutiny to the entire industry and, oh yeah, get himself indicted (he has proclaimed his innocence), and lose his job. It’s all part of his master plan. Only a moron could fail to grasp that.
I Lost My Strategy Under the Sofa, Special Citation
Marissa Mayer, CEO of Yahoo
Nobody thought Marissa Mayer faced an easy challenge when she signed on to try to revive the fading Web 1.0 icon. But nearly four years into her tenure, the profits continue to sag and the fiascos continue to mount as, to take just one of many examples, she shutters expensive “magazines” that she previously launched and described as central to her strategy. Paying hefty ransoms to keep key employees has made Mayer look desperate. She has alternated between resisting and embracing shareholder activists and zigzagged on whether she should spin off Yahoo’s valuable stake in Alibaba or spin off the bulk of the company’s businesses and leave Yahoo as largely a holding company for the Alibaba stake.
The Leon Trotsky Prize for Reorganization
Tony Hsieh, CEO, Zappos
Hsieh is both a quirky mogul who lives in a trailer with two pet alpacas outside and a leadership guru who previously won plaudits for the zany, free-flowing culture at the online shoe-seller. He has made bold moves, such as a $350 million gamble to transform downtown Las Vegas into a bustling entrepreneurial hub. But Hsieh topped that by radically overturning the order at Zappos. He eliminated all bosses in favor of a self-management model known as holacracy, now aimed at reaching a state of organizational enlightenment known as “teal.” The result: A wave of exits, as 29% of the staff turned over in a single year. The company has yet to fully regain its footing.
The George Costanza Medal for In-Office Frolics
Parker Conrad, former CEO of Zenefits
In its first two years, the employee benefits software company grew at an astonishing pace, reaching more than 1,000 employees and a $4.5 billion valuation. Then things turned: Last year, Zenefits reportedly missed its revenue targets, causing Fidelity Investments to mark down the value of its shares in the company by 48%. Later, a Buzzfeed report found that, under Conrad, as many as 80% of Zenefits’ sales of health insurance in Washington state were made by unlicensed brokers. The final blow came in February, when employees were found to be systematically cheating on mandatory insurance-broker training. Conrad was pushed out. His replacement banned drinking at the office, calling Zenefits’ culture “inappropriate for a highly regulated company.” A subsequent Wall Street Journalreport found that under Conrad, Zenefits employees held frequent office parties, wrestled with each other in public, and had sex in the office stairwell.
You can find the full list on: http://fortune.com/2016/03/30/most-disappointing-leaders/