Larry Ellison doesn’t seem like a nice guy but he is a very successful businessman and makes good choices when it comes to running Oracle. But what he is doing courting Mark Hurd? Articles in the WSJ (and elsewhere) state that Oracle plans to pay Mark Hurd, the recently departed CEO of HP $950,000 salary plus up to a $10 Million dollar bonus to be co-president. I don’t really know what a co-president does but won’t get into that discussion here. Why Hurd? Ellison and Hurd are reportedly good friends so if Ellison wants the guy around, take him sailing. Toss back a few and talk strategy. Heck, pay him an $11 M consulting fee. But why hire the guy that obviously thinks he is above the rules or at least above H-P’s rules.
Tech industry pundits say the guy only broke small rules involving expenses and his resignation from H-P was too harsh. Would the same be said for a sales guy that broke the same rules? Besides, in a survey done on Glassdoor back in August, Hurd had the lowest approval rating by his employees of any tech industry CEO. Two-thirds of H-P employees disapproved of the guy. He is so disliked that there is a F***YouMarkHurd website.
Leaders can have such a toxic affect on employees it always shocks me when guys like Hurd are chosen to run companies. It shouldn’t. Even guys like Marion Barry the crack smoking mayor of Washington D.C. Can find fans. These guys can even convince themselves that ignoring rules is OK for them. Lane Kiffin the antagonistic short-term coach at the University of Tennessee broke numerous recruiting rules while at U.T. albeit most were small. UT fans hate Kiffin about as much as H-P employees hate Hurd. Now Kiffin the first year coach at USC is quoted after USC’s first game this season as saying , “We want to be tough, we want to be disciplined.” What? What does discipline have to do with it?
It’s typical do as I say leadership. It doesn’t work. Find guys that can walk the walk if you want employees to emulate character traits like responsibility and ethical decision making. Look to people like Ken Iverson or Norman Schwarzkopf for inspiration.