There’s one headline dominating business news today. And it has to do with one of the largest multinational investment banks.
Goldman Sachs announced a change in leadership. Lloyd Blankfein, CEO since 2006, will step down later this year. David Solomon, another long-time employee, will take his place.
This is big news. Not only because of Goldman’s stature and reputation. But because of what Blankfein means to the company.
Don’t forget, his tenure was plagued by difficulty. The 2007-2008 global financial crisis happened early on, with many people demonizing him and execs like him for being “part of the problem”. Goldman took a hit, but the government bailed them out. Fueling more resentment and distrust.
described his leadership style as “founder centric”, meaning leadership with a founder’s mindset. Prioritizing shareholders, pushing hard for exponential value creation. Sorta like a growth-over-everything mentality.
Others pointed to high levels of secrecy and the under-representation of women and minorities at Goldman Sachs.
Many people worried that Blankfein was just perpetuating the all-too-familiar image of a money-thirsty, heartless corporation.
But the recent farewell memo he sent challenges that argument.
It’s true that perseverance is a necessary part of great leadership. But that in itself isn’t enough. Leaders have to recognize the role their colleagues play in helping them overcome tough challenges.
A humble posture shows appreciation. It shows people they’re valued. That the work they do matters.
Blankfein’s leadership was by no means faultless. Criticisms of his leadership style and the culture at Goldman Sachs shouldn’t be totally ignored.
But his farewell memo does shed light on the type of attitude a respectful leader would have.
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