The Wall Street Journal (WSJ), 5 September 2007 reports that based on a 10 year study of 75,000 Danish companies, profitability of companies declined after the CEO suffered from the death of a child (-21.4%), spouse (-14.7%), parent (-7.7%). [Further, the study reports that profitability actually increased when the CEO lost his/her mother-in-law (7%).]
These results are really not surprising nor or they hard to understand.
Leaders are people first—as human beings, we are all vulnerable to the tragedies of life and these affect us profoundly!
The WSJ puts it this way: “These are individuals…It’s important to understand they’re not automatons.”
The study called, “It’s All About Me” goes on to state the company’s profitability also typically fell after the CEO purchased a mansion. Researcher speculate that the leadership is either cashing out of the company (i.e. they no longer believe in the company’s future prospects) or that the leaders have become distracted by their own narcissism (i.e. enjoying their wealth rather than working hard).
For a quite a while, people have questioned the hefty executive pay packages, but as the WSJ states, perhaps these questions will be somewhat muted by these “studies [that] generally conclude CEOs do matter to their companies’ performance.”
In User-centric EA, people matter and leadership matters. If the leader is distracted or physically or emotionally wounded, the enterprise most certainly suffers. However, EA can help function as shock-absorber in the organization, since it provides for broad-based business and technical input, planning, and governance. By having the long-term mechanisms in place, such as a well researched and accepted EA plan and vetting mechanisms for how to invest corporate resources, the reliance on any single individual or individuals is lessoned. Leadership will always play a crucial part in organizational success (or failure) and as individuals we are all at the mercy of heaven above, but developing sound mechanisms by the which the organization can weather some of life’s shocks is a role EA can play.