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C-Suite Success…or, suck-sess?

I’ll concede, it can be confusing. What is success, after all? What is wealth? Riches? Being fortunate? Being a winner? What is well-off? What is comfortable?

Well, I am very uncomfortable with the state of leadership in the world today. I think it too often is appalling. The crisis I am referring to is due to semi-conscious people in powerful authority who have no visible sign of leadership perspective.

Greed and superficiality appear to be vogue. The threat of reprisal is commonplace. But, who are the so-called “leaders” kidding? I’m stumped. Who feels well-off with the current leadership collusion among C-Suites, Wall Street and Washington, DC – where current economic realities collide with human sensibility, and polarities enlarge?

What is a successful hedging strategy for this mess? Perhaps we should ask an acknowledged hedging master, the current chairman and chief executive officer of JPMorgan Chase & Co. – and until recently, the darling of Wall Street. On a recent “Meet the Press” television program (MSNBC-TV), Jamie Dimon impressively defended his bank. Yet, speaking of the debate in Washington, he complained about attacks on successful people.

I’ve always found it distasteful when the word “success” is used as a synonym for being monetarily wealthy. The use of “success” in this way reflects a prejudice that distorts personal worth, social fairness, and collaborative spirit. This subtlety is at the heart of common “leadership” distortions. Dimon accepted over $20 Million in annual compensation and described himself as a strong believer in collaboration. We live in very strange times, indeed! Perhaps we need a neo-leadership language guide.

So, listen to yourself. (“She/He is very successful.”) Are you in a leadership role and you think “success” is being disproportionately rich? Try vetting that “success” with the teachers of America, or fire fighters, or the post-crisis asthmatic, or the homeless parent who holds a full-time job, or the Eagle Scout, or the kid who surprised his soldier father by walking into his arms.

If you study the quotes collected about success, few have the superficial – it’s-about-the-money-stupid – perspective. Even Success Magazine agrees. So, isn’t it frankly disturbing that so many high income and high net worth “leaders” fail to embrace a higher success standard?

When people in leadership positions fail to have adult perspectives, we are in a sea of philosophical poverty. Leadership is an adult endeavor. It is about worthy goals (i.e., worthy, not selfish) and core human values. When C-Suite executives rationalize “success” as mollifying money mania for “leaders,” we are in the company of adolescents.

You deserve better. Now, what are you prepared to do about it?

The rich getting richer during the Great Recession and the growing inequity tarnishing the American Dream are suck-sess. Let’s grow up and pull together!