Gen Wise Perspective

Gen Y's perspective (pun intended) on our journey through work, life, and everything in between.

Are business leaders accountable for their actions?

In my mind, one of the defining characteristics of Gen Y is that we don’t like anything that is overly corporate or structured. Maybe we’re all just striving to be unique individuals, but overall we love the idea of going against The Man.

I’m all for that point of view, but recently I’ve started to see another side of the coin: The Man (aka the leader of a large corporation) cares more than you’d think.

Hear me out, please.

Gen Y employees tend to be lower down in companies (given our age), yet there are many of us who think we know best. Sometimes our ideas are very innovative. Sometimes they are extremely naïve and/or idealistic. Other times we are business-savvy but have superiors who refuse to listen or shift away from the “traditional” methods that have always worked in the past.

But the biggest misconception is that CEOs just sit in their corner office raking in the dough and not caring about the company.

You know why that’s not the case?

Because when shit hits the fan, the CEO is the one who gets canned. They are the face of the organization—the one with the biggest responsibility of all: Making sure the entire operation is running, and running successfully.

So, yes, the CEO gets that nice fat paycheck, but “uneasy lies the head that wears a crown.” (Yes I’m a nerd and quoted Shakespeare’s Henry IV)

When a company as a whole doesn’t live up to expectations, it’s not those of us at entry-mid level who gets blamed in the public eye…it’s the CEO.

I’ve actually seen this theory in action as I’ve begun to manage others. I’m lucky to work with some very talented individuals, but still if something goes wrong…it’s all on me. Both my clients and my boss are going to look to me because it’s my job to run these accounts, so it’s my job to make sure the other people on my team are doing things right.

Unfortunately, things go wrong that are out of our control. Guess what? I’ll be the one taking the lumps for it.

Yes, I know there are many business leaders who have outdated ideas and could benefit from learning a few lessons in their industry. There are others who might just be counting down the days until retirement. But for the most part, I really don’t think that’s the case. There are many CEOs out there who are truly passionate about the organizations they run.

So, let’s give business leaders a break. It’s really easy to pass judgment until you’re in a similar situation and realize why someone might have come to the decision they did.

Keep in mind that there’s a downside to everything. A CEO might be on top, but they’re also sitting on a pile of responsibilities that we don’t have to deal with.

(photo credit goes to playingintraffic.wordpress.com)

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10 thoughts on “Are business leaders accountable for their actions?

  1. Solid post, Jackie. I think everyone, whether it be Gen Y, Z, or whatever, look at things from a overall business perspective.

    At times we are all quick to say, “I could do that better,” but do not realize the responsibility that comes with it. There’s a quote that says “With great power comes great responsibility.” Sure, it’s from Spider Man, but it makes sense. If you aren’t ready to utilize that power, don’t think you can be responsible.

    • Jackie Lampugnano on said:

      Thanks Jason! And your Spider Man quote is dead on, so who cares if it’s a Spider Man quote? Haha. And yes, people need to look at things from an overall business perspective. I think that’s true about business in general–it’s important to look at the bigger picture from time to time so that you can see what the day-to-day tasks accomplish in the grand scheme of things.

  2. Solid post is right! And it doesn’t matter your generation. It’s smart to think about everything YOU have to do to get to the CEO level. Once there, after knowing how hard you worked to get there, do you want some little sh*t telling you you sit in the corner office raking through your cash?

    Two years I had to stop paying myself in order to make payroll for eight months. I took nothing out of the business and, in fact, put a lot of my savings in, in order to keep people employed. We’re launching Spin Sucks Pro in three weeks and have a hefty invoice coming. So I’ve stopped paying myself again.

    This isn’t something I’d typically talk about, but I had a former employee who I overheard talking about how I get all these benefits and he does all the work. So now, when times are tough, I tell people it’s tough for all of us. And, when times are great, I share.

    But there also are benefits I get because I have the title and I put everything I have into this business. I shouldn’t have to explain that; unfortunately your scenario at the beginning is true so I do explain it.

    The business world needs more people like you, Jackie.

    • Jackie Lampugnano on said:

      Thanks so much for the kind words and insight into a CEO’s mind. I find it ignorant of people like your former employee to make comments like that because that person clearly didn’t stop to think about a) what you did to earn your position, and b) how difficult it is to be in that position. Maybe you just make it look easy 🙂

      I think this idea just applies to life in general (not just business): the best things in life don’t come easy. How many times do parents throw around “privileges” and “responsibility” in the same sentence? The two go hand-in-hand. You want one? Well, it doesn’t come without the other.

      But I will say that the business world could always use a few more Ginis as CEOs. I’m sure not all of them are quite as dedicated as you.

  3. Here’s a secret, many leaders have come to VALUE that accountability. It’s what drives them.

    This is especially true of business owners, without that accountability it can get way to easy to give yourself a pass, put things off to tomorrow, mail it in. But knowing that if I don’t do my best the fate of my whole organization stands to suffer, knowing that, as leaders, we set the tone, that pushes us all the harder.

    Thanks for articulating this from your side too!

    • Jackie Lampugnano on said:

      Thanks for commenting and for the inside tip! I think what you said is a testament to the character of those in leadership roles. It’s not a coincidence that leaders value and are driven by accountability…they wouldn’t be where they are if they were a different type of person, right?

    • Jackie Lampugnano on said:

      Ahh, yes, well I can’t say that this argument applies to business leaders across the board. That will never be the case for any argument.

      However, just because a news story says something doesn’t mean that we’re privy to all the in’s and out’s of the situation…

      • Edward Vogel on said:

        It seems that if CEO’s were truly responsible for the failures and successes of their company, that we would have seen those who played pivotal roles in the biggest business failure that we will hopefully ever see in our lives, being held responsible. I don’t disagree that there are considerations that we are not privy to but it just seems that this is the most obvious case of what you are discussing and nothing is being done to hold these CEO’s responsible so how can we expect it to happen in less egregious cases? I think what you are proposing is, in theory, the expected outcome, the ideal outcome, but, in practice, those with much privilege often receive lighter punishments, if any, because of their access to financial resources and to the “right” people. It is pretty evident if you look at the prison system and the demographics of those who are incarcerated.

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