We are cheering for the wrong guys

Why does Australia and its financial press still celebrate and laud the mediocrity of our corporate leaders?

I’m referring specifically to the CEO’s & Chairmen of large public companies.

I’m not writing this to convince anybody with statistics but I think it is safe to believe that they are paid too much when compared to any metric that you wish to measure them against.

They aren’t company builders but stewards of the titles given to them after expensive recruitment searches. These companies have been in existence long before they were anointed and it doesn’t look like many CEO’s are leaving them in a better state than when they first arrived.

They don’t own many shares in the companies they work for and any share ownership is a result of generous grants rather than having bought the them with their own “after-tax” money, which is an extension of the financial syphoning that they manage so well.

More disturbing is that the same CEO’s and Chairmen seem to rotate from one organisation to another, whilst their poor performance and incompetence continues to be rewarded and revered.

Large Australian companies are littered with overpaid managers and tired, old Chairmen who have used phrases such as “moving forward”, “corporate governance” and “limited visibility” in order to stay on the gravy train. They take no risk with any of their own money.

The likes of Graham Turner from Flight Centre, Paul Bassat from Seek, Andrew Forrest of Fortescue and even Gerry Harvey should be celebrated more so than the bosses of banks, conglomerate and multi-nationals. After all, they built their companies from the ground up.

Entrepreneurs shouldn’t be sniggered at, as if they are mad. Australia needs to encourage a more positive culture of economic creation otherwise all we’ll end up doing is selling financial services and insurance.

We should be cheering for the owners and creators of small, private businesses where people risk their own money and lifestyle, every day.

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