Bank of America CEO Ken Lewis
Wednesday night, I had the privilege of meeting with friends I have not seen together since the Inauguration. After working closely with each other in Southwest Florida, a bond had developed that can be shared with no one else; through our collective experience, we shared something that can only be relived in memories, and we did just that! Sitting around a small table, we relived our time in Robert E Lee County Florida, and of the many people that we met. Our time spent together was not by happenstance, but it was destiny. Where else could people from across the globe meet each other, fall in love with each other’s personality, and keep genuine concern about the each other’s well being.
Our time together was ended after the country made its decision. The bond we had built, pushing toward a common goal, was then cemented in posterity, and we then went on our separate ways. I drove back to Texas, while another boarded a plane for Switzerland. One decided to stay around an extra week to get some rest, while the last person drove back to the DC Metropolitan Area. It is a weird feeling when ones future, at times, lye in the hands of a majority vote or when a group decides to go in a different direction. Many of our lives are dependent upon the consensus of others, and we are not even aware of it.
This realization came abruptly to Kenneth Lewis, CEO at Bank of America, during a board meeting Wednesday. Mr. Lewis was removed by a majority vote from his position as Chairman of the Board, but was unanimously supported, by the board, in being kept on as CEO. With the recent downturn in the economy, his steady hand and judgment was examined by the way he handled the acquisition of Merrill Lynch. Several shareholders stood to their feet, and freely expressed their anger, disappointment, and personal loss due to the banks mismanagement by Lewis.
It appeared that the root of his alleged bad judgment call, came from his willingness to support and push for the acquisition of Merrill Lynch, after becoming aware of its current losses. Shareholders expressed, with good reason, the disclosure of this information would have weighed heavily against their support of the deal: which cost one shareholder $27,000. Mr. Lewis defended himself by stating, “It [the acquisition] was “good value” and that abandoning the deal would have caused “serious harm” to Bank of America and other banks.” According to Lewis, “as a legal matter, there was no duty” to disclose the bank’s talks with the government.” Undoubtedly, the decision is viewed as a precursor of a similar decision regarding his current position at B of A.
In this case, one can not overlook the amount of trust placed upon an Executive, System, Administrator, or Liaison to the People/Members/Boards. Time and time again, history shows that once these players lose faith in their leaders, all that was certain, in respect and protocol, becomes uncertain and shaky at best. In 1867, congress enacted the Tenure of Office act, because they suspected the President would misuse the power of his office. As predicted, he (in their eyes) abused that said power, and they proceeded with the Impeachment of President Andrew Johnson. The same thing happened when TV Evangelist Jim Baker was accused with the mismanagement of funds and infidelity while overseeing the PTL Club. Jerry Falwell took over as Executive Director of the operations, and publically denounced his fellow brother in the ministry, thus ending the credibility of Jim Baker and his family.
Although the people hold their leaders accountable to certain standards, and when violated, take measures to oust them: What happens when the leaders decide that “They” must go a different direction from their employer?
You can currently watch this being played out in the interesting merger of William Morris and Endeavor. These two “Hollywood Rivals” decided on Monday to merge, creating the quintessential Hollywood Powerhouse that is already speculated to dominate the industry, while other smaller agencies cope with the Recession. With William Morris signing Grammy Award Winner Mary J Blige on Wednesday, one would think this upcoming merger would be viewed positively by all players involved. Not So!
Literary Agent Richard Abate
Representing Endeavor on the other coast, Richard Abate boasts a loyal and faithful clientele, while having a clear track record of scoring his clients healthy deals. After fighting his way in court to work at Endeavor, it became apparent that the literary focus of these two powerhouse agencies was waning…at best. But, with a 114 year history, William Morris’s literary department has stronger roots and is much bigger than that of Endeavor, leaving an obvious decision for Mr. Abate to make, which was to not join his employer in the final merge as William Morris Endeavor.
Parting ways, under any circumstance, isn’t a sought after component to any relationship. When choosing professions, one weighs his options by choosing what he can see himself doing for the rest of his life. When choosing a place to live, one envisions himself content and happy there until his dying days. When reciting marriage vows, we end each solemn oath by stating “Till Death Do Us Part”. Unfortunately, with a bad economy forcing people out of their jobs, homes, and marriages, one can only hope that recovery is sweet and swift.
Perhaps, the great playwright understood all the more when he penned these famous lines:
“Good night, good night! Parting is such sweet sorrow, That I shall say good night till it be morrow.”