Monday, June 20, 2011

The business model of leadership

Reading Sunday's article on CEO pay among North Carolina's biggest companies, I couldn't help thinking about the search that's looming for a new leader of Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools.

Across the country, you hear a lot about the desirability of getting a superintendent with a background in private enterprise and/or a businesslike mindset. That's generally considered shorthand for a leader who's bold, responsible with money and not bogged down in bureaucracy and tradition.

But as the article reminded me, captains of industry expect to be well paid -- even when wages are stagnant and jobs are disappearing among the rank and file. My brain boggled looking at the list of seven- and eight-figure totals. The number that stuck with me: "Average total compensation for the CEOs was $93,992 a week."

Departing Superintendent Peter Gorman catches a lot of flak for his $267,000 salary, his $35,000 in extra retirement pay, his $250,000 "personal growth" grant from the Spangler Foundation and his potential 10 percent performance bonus. But next to this crew, Gorman looks like one of those guys holding a "Will Work For Food" sign.

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