When I talk about the quality of our Roundtable discussions, those who read this blog who are ExecuNet members will understand immediately when I say that given the financial and economic turmoil boiling around us it is both educational and comforting to be able to listen to and learn from an audience that, while deeply concerned, continues to bring much needed perspective, and dare I say it - hope.

When confronted with the headlines that blind us with one disaster after another in 60 point font and right underneath one reads about the unconscionable compensation connected to the "leadership" of these organizations, it is easy to understand the profound disappointment and anger that millions of us feel at the betrayal of leadership.

Over the past couple of weeks we have seen discussions ranging from members sharing their thoughts with a reporter from the Wall Street Journal who wanted to get their reactions to the impact of all this chaos on a manager's ability to support and motivate staff through such uneasy times to, as you might guess, executive compensation packages that to any rational being seem to be a total disconnect between reward for performance and anything else.

I wish there were space here to share all of the dialogue that went back and forth on this issue, but 21st century attention spans being what they are (even ones that might actually have an interest in the subject) would clearly make that prohibitive.

In following the thread of this discussion, there was, however, one response in particular that stuck with me and which I am happy to say its author Greg Davall graciously gave me his permission to share here.

Executive Compensation For High-Flying Executives - Excessive or Not?

I have been on the Board of Directors of a publically held company, worked for a closely held privately owned company and owned my own manufacturing company. I agree that the majority of compensation should be based on performance; but is stock performance the best measure? It is relatively easy to slash and burn for near term profit at the cost of sacrificing the long term competitive position and future value of the company. CEO spin doctors can convince their shareholders and sometimes even themselves that the near term unrealistic gains that are achieved by non-sustainable practices are what is "best" for everyone; only to cash out and leave it to others to pick up the pieces.

IMHO treating the company as if it were your own, communicating with clarity at all levels and accomplishing what you say you are going to for the reasons that you publically stand behind reinforces the values and integrity that will sustain American industries into the future and longer term continue to differentiate us from others with less transparent agendas. The correct compensation in this scenario is the true long term value added by the management team and should be able to stand the public scrutiny of all stakeholders... Being able to look employees, owners, suppliers and customers in the eye and tell them what you are worth because of the value you have brought to the table. If one can honestly apply this test and still sleep at night without praying for forgiveness then chances are good that you are worth what you are getting paid!

Point? At the end of the day, "worth" and how one defines it is among those subjective subjects that will always surround a lot of things in our lives and as Charlie Brown says "Happiness is different things to different people." All true to be sure.

Did you get far enough to digest Greg's last sentence? It speaks volumes on behalf of the thousands of those working as hard as they know how to lead organizations where all those associated with the enterprise can both make a living and, as Greg put it so well, sleep at night.

Views: 50

Comment by Amitai Givertz on November 2, 2008 at 6:13pm
Hey, Dave, thanks for posting this.
Comment by Steve Levy on November 3, 2008 at 8:01am
DO- Here's the rub: How many boards and executives actually share their personal vision and objectives with the rest of the company? I don't mean the happy horsespit most company communication mouthpieces speak but the real stuff?

You and I are both RBC Editor Picks for the day - nice work!


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