Posted 10.10.2008

Newview Ahhhh, don’t you feel better just looking at this photo?  That’s the view from the lobby lounge terrace at the St. Regis Resort in Monarch Bay, CA.  What better place to de-stress after your company has received an $85 billion government bailout?  By now, we’ve all heard about the $440,000 retreat that 70 top performers of AIG enjoyed at the St. Regis just days after the bailout was structured (and, by the way, just days before another $37 billion was funneled into the company).

Outrageous?  Absolutely.  Clueless?  Even more so.  Here’s what I can’t figure out.  One of the first things I was taught as an executive is to never say or do anything you don’t want to see on the front page of The Wall Street Journal.  How in the world could anyone at AIG have thought that going ahead with this long planned retreat was a good idea?  A better question is did anyone give it any thought at all?

The last of the nine distinctions that I identified in my research for The Next Level is that leaders need to pick up a big footprint view of their role and let go of a small footprint view.  The point is that, as a leader, you are always on stage and people are always watching and observing you whether you know it or not and whether you like it or not.  You have to manage the impact of your leadership footprint.  In times like this, the leader’s footprint is more important that ever.  On the theory that you can sometimes learn more from bad examples than good ones, let’s all take a lesson from the leaders at AIG.