Vinod Khosla, the co-founder of Sun Microsystems and now a venture capitalist, considers himself a pragmentalist (pragmatic environmentalist) and his investments reflect that attitude.
“And I’m a firm believer, technology is the real solution. The world will not go backwards. Human beings aren’t made that way. And so you have to come up with different solutions.”
All well and good, but he goes on to say that leaders need to hold opinions based on their own belief system and that if you believe strongly enough you can lead confidently.
The examples he mentions are Steve Jobs and Larry Ellison and therein lies the problem.
It’s a common attitude, cite one of the “good guys” to illustrate so-called leadership qualities and ignore all the bad examples of the same action.
Ellison and Jobs are known for forging ahead based on their own opinion and convictions and damn the torpedoes and analysts. Fortunately, they’ve both been right far more often (not always) than wrong and so are held up as examples of the need to hold to passionately to one’s beliefs.
But what about all the leaders who follow their own belief system and blow up their companies when they damn the torpedoes?
Robert Nardelli at Home Depot; Richard Fuld at Lehman and the rest of the Wall Street CEOs who passionately believed in derivatives and minimized the risk; John Thain at Merrill Lynch; Al Dunlap at Sunbeam; the list is endless and timeless.
Khosla is interesting and obviously successful following his own advice, but I suggest that you look for more than confidence based on a personal belief system when choosing someone to follow.
What do you think?
Image credit: The Washington Post