I’m a day late on this, but I recommend Shawn Tully’s piece on new Wells Fargo CEO Charlie Scharf. Scharf spent 25 years as a mentee of JP Morgan CEO Jamie Dimon, and as Tully reports, once called him “the best leader I’ve ever seen.” The promotion makes Scharf part of a cadre of Dimon colleagues now running global financial companies—including Jes Staley of Barclays, Bill Winter of Standard Chartered and Frank Bisignano of First Data (recently purchased by Fiserv.)
For me, it also raises this question: has Dimon become the Jack Welch of our times? Welch was a unique business icon when he stepped down as CEO of General Electric in 2001, having bred an entire generation of industrial business leaders, including the three that vied to replace him—former 3M and Boeing CEO Jim McNerney, former Home Depot and Chrysler CEO Bob Nardelli, and Welch’s successor, Jeff Immelt. A decade ago, having worked for Welch was the best credential an aspiring CEO could ask for.
Welch, of course, also loomed large because of his irrepressible penchant for speaking his mind; a trait he clearly shares with Dimon. And he was widely admired by his peers—also true of Dimon, who came out tops in our May poll asking Fortune 500 CEOs which of their peers they most admired. (Satya Nadella was second.) Dimon has also emerged as a leading voice for the new social conscience of business, pushing the Business Roundtable he heads to rewrite its corporate mission statement.
Dimon’s record, of course, is not without blemishes. A U.S. Senate investigation of the so-called “London Whale” knocked him for misleading investors and regulators as the whale’s losses skyrocketed. But in spite of that, he’s assumed a position of leadership in the business community that has, arguably, been vacant since Welch retired nearly two decades ago.
Disagree? Send your comments my way; I’ll happily share some Friday.
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