Mina Kimes of Business Week has written an excellent article on the bizarre management style of the CEO of Sears Roebuck and Company. Sort of a “Lord of the Flies” meets venture banking.
I once worked for a CEO similar to , but not as virulent at Eddie Lampert. He inherited a senior management whose prior CEO had fostered a naturally collaborative and very cohesive team. The outfit that bought our company thought our CEO was too soft for their liking and brought in their own guy.
The first thing he did was break the cohesion of the team, assigning executives identical tasks and forbidding cooperation with other units (as had been the prior way), pitting executives against one another, picking out a “whipping boy” for every executive meeting (Lampert’s specialty of picking up on one thing and beating the hell out of an executive over it sure brings back memories), and issuing out of the blue employment terminations. The whole time he was there the company failed to hit revenue targets, consistently failed to meet non revenue performance objectives, and basically treaded water for 4 years while carrying out two mass layoffs. The company was finally sold for far less than envisioned or ever should have been. And it was the employees and the shareholders who took it in the shorts.
I wouldn’t let that clown manage a kiddie ride at a third-rate carnival in an abandoned strip mall parking lot yet I am certain he will land on his feet and destroy shareholder value at another unfortunate company.
Don’t get me wrong, I have had some very tough, very demanding, and not particularly stable bosses in the past. But there is a difference between taking heat and getting stronger and taking a beating for no good reason. It is a waste of time to work for value wreckers no matter how much board support they have. Life is too short. Bail on those clowns if you run into them and move on as fast as you can.