Boeing, Berlusconi and Leadership

There are a lot of exciting things happening in the business world. One event involves Boeing. The newspaper stated, “Boeing pads lead on Airbus with record Emirates deal.” Emirates bought 50 777-300ER jets from Boeing. They also took an option of 20 additional planes. The deal was valued at $26 billion. This is the largest airplane deal in history. Good for Boeing, and good for the employees and retirees.

Now for the business of the NBA. Negotiations have collapsed with the union rejecting the owner’s offer of a 50-50 split of revenue. The player’s union has decided to fight it out in court rather than continue to negotiate. There has been some talk of decertifying the union, but I am not too sure why that is such an important part of this issue.

Also, the Supreme Court has decided to rule on Obamacare. The timing of this situation is rather interesting. They intend to rule on the constitutionality of mandatory health care about four months before the election. If it is determined that Obamacare is unconstitutional then it will be a boon for the Republicans, but if it is deemed ok, then the Democrats will have a leg up. Should be very interesting.

The event that I want to discuss though is the resignation of Berlusconi, who was the Italian Prime Minister recently replaced by Monti Benvenuto. Specifically I want to discuss what we can learn about leadership from the failed reign of this flamboyant Italian P.M.

All of us know what good leadership looks like. Someone who is driven, honest, and able to communicate and create shared vision. Good leadership involves some level of morality and the ability to get things done.  All of these are not what Berlusconi represents. This is very simplistic,  but will suffice for now.

Berlusconi was a throw back to early Roman times. He liked women and partying, as well as all the things that go with that. He was accused of various moral lapses, but was able to overcome the attacks. In fact, he emerged about 17 years as an Italian politician, and has been able to hang on for a long time. He burst on the scene as a free-market crusader, and considered himself a liberal.

However, the fact of the matter is that he was not a reformer. According to the Economist Berlusconi hardened his position against structural reform. As the country degenerated he played the fiddle like Nero. “He was almost physically incapable, it seemed, of telling voters that things were bad and would get worse if they did not make sacrifices.” Instead of leading his country by creating a vision that all could rally around, he created a facade, a house of cards that almost took down the Italian house and the city of Europe.

Leadership involves creating a vision and selling that vision so people can accomplish objectives. It does seem to me that there is a lack of leadership throughout the world, not just here in the U.S. Berlusconi is an example of that reality. What will Monti do? How will he impact the Italian economy, and Europe’s for that matter? We’ll wait and see, but it can’t be any worse than what has already occurred. Good luck Italy I hope it all works out.

And that is my thought for the day!


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