The AE Authenticity in Management Meter.
DateTuesday, May 21, 2013 at 03:13PM
By Peter M. De Lorenzo
Detroit. A little over a month ago I wrote a column entitled “The Penalty of (bad) Leadership,” in which I revisited perhaps the greatest piece of ad copy of all time, written by Theodore F. MacManus back in 1915. The print ad only ran once and it never mentioned Cadillac or its competitors, but it brilliantly expressed what it means to be a leader and the heavy burden that comes with leadership.
I then went on to portray GM Chairman and CEO Dan Akerson as someone who is utterly devoid of leadership skills, saying that “applying the term ‘leader’ to Akerson is an insult to those who have come before him in this business and who have excelled in the role and others who are leading in their respective professions now. Devoid of even a shred of relevant experience, Akerson careens around making knee-jerk and just flat-out bad decisions with a hubris that’s simply awe-inspiring in its desultory maliciousness, in effect employing leadership of the worst kind: By gunpoint.”
Why am I bringing this up again? Well, it seems that Mr. Akerson was selected by the Mendoza School of Business at the University of Notre Dame to deliver its commencement address last week. Now, either the ND School of Business ran out of ideas, or it's more likely they figured that GM would be a good candidate for a corporate donation or three, it's because the lovable “Captain Queeg” dispensing leadership advice would be akin to me debating the pros and cons of Traditional English Cottage Gardens vs. Victorian-themed Gardens. As in, huh?
But that didn’t deter Akerson, oh no, because in his remarks he mentioned “authentic” leadership and how it’s the greatest need in the world where they will work and live. Ahem, really, Dan?
I love that word authentic. It’s a good word, a heroic word, even. And we’re seeing it being used more and more for delineating not only what’s real, but what’s true blue and good. The pursuit of authenticity is something worthwhile in this graceless age we live in. And it’s applicable for everything from a creative idea to the way a person – or a company – carries oneself.
I’ll come back to this in a moment.