Lack of leadership in a crisis
The author is the head of business EYE teamof the JoongAng Ilbo.
No one is willing to take accountability. Issues that are dominating various media articles and online communities — such as alleged favors for Justice Minister Choo Mi-ae’s son during his military service, the aftermath of the Incheon International Airport employment crisis and the real estate measure crisis — have no clear answers.
Instead, only “fairness” is advocated in cyberspace. The irresponsible behavior of politicians for the national crisis caused by the Covid-19 outbreak is adding fuel to the flame.
In a crisis, suitable leadership emerges. The 33rd U.S. President Harry Truman is such a case. With historic decisions like dropping atomic bombs in Japan, the Marshall Plan and participation in the Korean War, Truman prevented a global crisis beyond the United States. A sign “The buck stops here” was kept on his desk in the Oval Office. The phrase represents his mindset.
Many leaders emerged as troubleshooters for their companies or national economies in a crisis. Apple founder Steve Jobs stepped down due to discord with management. Upon returning after 15 years in 1997, he presented the iPod, iPhone and iPad series and changed the industry forever. Michael Dell, founder of Dell Computer, retreated from management in 2004 but returned in 2007 when the company was in a slump, leading Dell’s revival. The Wallenberg family in Sweden expanded its share of Sony Ericsson on the verge of bankruptcy in the early 2000s after the burst of the dot-com bubble and put the company back on track. They were all owners of the companies.
Leading companies like Facebook, Walmart, Volkswagen and IKEA are similar. According to the Credit Suisse Research Institute, family-run businesses, where founders or family members own more than 20 percent of shares or votes, recorded an average of 3.7 percent higher earning rates than businesses not managed by owners’ families from 2006 to last year. The biggest merit of family management is operating investment strategies with long-term perspectives. When Samsung Electronics unveiled the world’s first 64 Mb DRAM in 1992, Kwon Oh-hyun, then head of the development team and now vice chairman, wrote in his book “Super Gap” that as the owner had concerns about the company, his management will was incomparable to anyone.
SK Chairman Chey Tae-won once hosted an eating show, consuming ramen noodles, and Shinsegae Group Vice Chairman Chung Yong-jin posted humorous daily life photos on Instagram. In the Covid-19 crisis, responsible leadership is desperately needed in politics, not just in business.