Five months ago, after yet another story expounding the glories of Carlos Ghosn, we asked Does the Rock Star Have Clothes? The answer came in last weekend’s issue of the Wall Street Journal:
Nope. He’s as naked as the day he was born. But let’s move on lest that visual be permanently embedded into your psyche.
Mr. Ghosn has been pretty stretched, handling the CEO responsibilities for both Nissan and Renault and operating out of two offices on opposite sides of the globe. That brings new meaning to the term "work-life balance." Apparently the balance, at least between insanity and effective leadership, was a little off and Nissan is paying the price.
Nissan posted a 23% drop in third-quarter net profit and forecast its first drop in annual net profit in seven years. The profit slide was a setback for Ghosn, whose hands-on management style is credited for rescuing the Japanese company from the brink of bankruptcy after he took charge in 1999. In announcing the profit warning, Mr. Ghosn called the company’s performance a "failure" and vowed to "introduce new energy into the management."
I can tell you how to "introduce new energy": get some sleep dude. Exactly how hands-on, especially effectively hands-on as opposed to dangerously hands-on, can you be when you are running two very large companies? But Nissan’s board had another way:
Ghosn will give up his role of overseeing the U.S. market, allowing him to concentrate on the company’s overall business. "This is the time to concentrate on my corporate duties," he [Ghosn] said, "and hand over operational management to executives who can focus on them full time."
Of course reducing the workload wasn’t completely acceptable to Carlos, so he had to do something about it:
But Mr. Ghosn also added new responsibilities for himself overseeing Nissan’s treasury functions, making him the company’s de facto chief financial officer.
You would think there’d be something in Sarbanes-Oxley that would put the kabash on such a convoluted hedonistic structure, or would at least require the CEO (uhh… slash CFO and "overseer") get enough sleep in order to protect investors. So is it really anything new?
The management moves "may seem dramatic to Mr. Ghosn and Nissan insiders," said Christopher Richter, an analyst at brokerage CLSA Asia-Pacific Markets. "But I don’t know if this is going to catch the imagination of outsiders."
Forget imagination. If I was a Nissan shareholder I would simply want some effective… and rested… leadership.
Get some sleep, Carlos.