What’s missing from the Mozilla CEO debacle commentary

I have read numerous posts and comments related to the “resignation” of the Mozilla CEO Brendan Eich. I feel compelled to comment on the situation as it raises an interesting issue that most of the commentators have not addressed: The relationship of a CEO to his employees. Since caring is one of the three Cs necessary for leadership, it is important for your employees to feel that you would put the interests of the company and the employees ahead of your own personal interests. I suspect based upon the stories I have read that a significant number of employees felt that the CEO’s views, defended in a recent interview, made it impossible for them to believe in him. While I would have hoped that people would value tolerance of opposing views more highly, I don’t doubt their reaction was genuine.

No one has a right to the CEO position, and if a CEO loses the confidence of a significant portion of their team it is right for them to move on. Often the reason the team loses confidence is more emotional than rationale, but whatever the reason it doesn’t have to be fair. To quote from the final scene between the great Vulcan philosopher Spock and Captain Kirk in Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan, “…the needs of the many outweigh…the needs of the few…or the one.” 

I believe the reason the team lost faith doesn’t really matter. I hope the people supporting the employees in this case would be as understanding if the shoe were on the other foot politically. It would not be hard to imagine a CEO who wrote a check to and actively supported a pro-abortion group losing the confidence of a significant group of his or her employees. My guess is that in this case the press and others might rush to defend the CEO.

But in my view the reason employees lose confidence is irrelevant to the decision. CEOs lose the confidence of their people all the time for far less controversial things than gay rights or abortion issues. Imagine a CEO who travels by private plane on the company dollar while employees are scrutinized over every dollar on an expense report. It is impossible to lead if people don’t believe you care.

Just so people don’t feel that I am taking sides on the issue of gay marriage, my own position is probably more out of the mainstream that what either side in this dispute represents. My extensive study of the Constitution can’t find anything in the document that mentions who consenting adults CAN or CAN’T marry. I disagree with both sides. I hope this radical view doesn’t get me booted from my next CEO gig.

 

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