The Great Debate

After the Hurd

HONG KONG-ITU/The following is a guest post by Kerry Sulkowicz, a psychiatrist and psychoanalyst who is the managing principal of Boswell Group LLC. He advises CEOs, investors and politicians on the dynamics of leadership, corporate culture and governance. The opinions expressed are his own.




About the only thing that’s clear in the story of Mark Hurd’s downfall last week as CEO of HP is how much we don’t know. Statements issued by HP, by Hurd, and by Hurd’s accuser reveal remarkably little about what was unquestionably a bad week for everyone involved.

Yet there are some meaningful clues if we read between the lines.

Mark Hurd

A highly successful CEO who took the helm at HP following the disastrous rein of Carly Fiorina, Hurd was well on his way to establishing himself as one of America’s best and brightest business leaders. Given his accomplishments at HP over the course of his tenure, I still think he may qualify. Notwithstanding the denials of a sexual relationship between Hurd and Jodie Fisher, the consultant and occasional actress who accompanied Hurd on “high-level customer and executive summit events,” we don’t know much about what actually happened between them.

Why would Hurd, a married man in a high profile job, whose every move was scrutinized under the electron microscope that comes with CEO territory, risk his reputation, not to mention his career, by spending so much time with Fisher? We’ll probably never know the entire story. But as an advisor to CEOs around the world, I see that the one thing they all grapple with is the isolation and loneliness that are inherent in the role. Because of the nature of power dynamics in all organizations, CEOs often have no one in whom they can confide inside their companies, and they naturally need – and seek – confidants on the outside.

Most of these relationships are healthy, adaptable and, in my view, necessary for CEOs to deal with the stresses of the job. But the boundaries of these relationships can occasionally get murky, especially with a CEO whose intimate personal relationships aren’t providing the kind of emotional sustenance they need, or who are drawn to the excitement of being with someone who might fill a certain void, either in the imagination or in reality.

HP’s hot, steamy mess

HP/The following is a guest post by Patrick Dailey, a senior human resources executive, who worked for Hewlett-Packard as vice president of global talent management during the time period when Compaq was being integrated into Hewlett-Packard. The opinions expressed are his own.

A hot, steaming mess was kicked to the curb late on Friday.

Messes like this are intentionally dumped on Friday afternoons following the closing bell to avoid notice. They are supposed to cool down over the weekend and hopefully be taken over by something new come market open on Monday.

But there was no way that this mess would go unnoticed, even after a late Friday afternoon announcement.

from The Great Debate UK:

Steve Tappin on what makes a CEO tick


Being a CEO should be one of the best jobs in the world, argue the authors of a new book.

"It offers the chance to make a real difference," Steve Tappin and Andrew Cave write in The New Secrets of CEOs: 200 Global Chief Executives on Leading.

"However, real life for most CEOs is tough and many are not enjoying it."

The authors interviewed 200 CEOs for the book, which includes profiles of such leaders as Tesco's Terry Leahy , Avon's Andrea Jung, Xstrata's Mick Davis, Kraft's Irene Rosenfeld, Haier's Zhang Ruimin and Cisco's John Chambers.

The CEO is the latest endangered species

ericauchard1– Eric Auchard is a Reuters columnist. The opinions expressed are his own –

The revolving doors are spinning ever faster in the executive suites of corporations.

CEO turnover has reached an all-time high, according to figures kept by recruiting firm Challenger & Gray. Last year, 1,484 U.S. CEOs resigned, stepped down or were fired — six casualties every business day.

Are a CEO’s health problems a private matter?

dr-jgsm-05– Dana Radcliffe is a Day Family senior lecturer of business ethics at the Johnson School at Cornell University. The views expressed are his own. —

Are a CEO’s health problems a private matter? Or does he or she have an obligation to disclose them to investors and other stakeholders?

These are questions Apple and its iconic co-founder and chief executive Steve Jobs have had to face ever since he was diagnosed with a rare form of pancreatic cancer in 2003.  Happily, the disease proved to be treatable with surgery, which Jobs underwent in 2004.  But shareholders didn’t learn that Apple’s chief had been ill until he sent out an email to employees, announcing that he had had cancer but was now “cured.”