Executives on Trial

Since the release of “The 5 Paths to Persuasion” in April, much of my consulting work has focused in two areas: 1) Helping clients hire the right executive for their company in terms of decision-style (Charismatic, Thinker, Skeptic, Follower or Controller), and 2) Helping clients assemble the right team of executives to ensure balance among the decision-styles.

This first area has really come into strong demand due to the past several years worth of scandals in the board room — and last week was definitely a bellwether one. The Wall Street Journal has an entire section dedicated to Executives on Trial. The names have now become famous: The Rigas from Adelphia, Martha Stewart with MSO, Frank Quattrone with Credit Suisse First Boston, and Dennis Kozlowski with Tyco.

One of the more interesting ones to me, though, is Ken Lay from Enron and his response last week. He held a press conference! And even answered some questions afterwards….often a no-no in most legal circles.

Regardless of whether he is guilty or not (a jury will decide that), his unique approach sheds light on his decision-style. Seeing the video of him and reading his statement leaves some clues (assuming they are accurate) but keep in mind that actions always speak louder than words.

Which decision-style do you think Key Lay is? Why? Could the board at Enron (and other companies) do a better job of balancing their executive teams?

What if a board needs a corporate turn-around…and fast! What type of decision-style would you hire? Why?