Wednesday, April 1, 2009


Iris Mack was an analyst with the Harvard Management Company that managed Harvard's endowment. According to this article in The Harvard Crimson, Iris, who was formerly an analyst at Enron, wrote an email to one of the leaders of the endowment pointing out that she believed that certain managers were trading derivative contracts without understanding the amount of risk involved.

It was a brave thing for Iris to do. It was the right thing to do. It is what Leaders do. Unfortunately, as you might suspect, Iris's comments were not well received. She was in fact let go. As the article goes on to point out, she was right of course.

I will say the following often for the foreseeable future. Leadership is about doing the right thing over making money. Look at the crisis we are in now. It was caused by a lack of leadership where making money was more valued than doing the right thing.

Now what is required is that Leaders must rise in this crisis and do so by doing the right thing. People are looking for leadership in every corner of the world right now. They are there, but they must have the courage of their convictions to step up. As you evaluate leaders going forward, look first are they doing the right thing? The right thing may not always be clear. But the wrong thing is often black and white.

Cheers, Mike

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