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Saturday, December 1, 2012

Bad PR and Bad Banking: BOA

How to do bad PR: Announce plans to raise fees effecting low-income customers, then pull back, wait a year, then announce such plans again, then pull back yet again. This sort of PR strategy gives rise to headlines such as, “Bank of America Backs Down on New Fees.” The Wall Street Journal could have added, “yet again.” Besides the obvious PR downside to announcing unpopular fees—and on one’s least well-off customers—is the implication of weakness or vulnerability in repeatedly backing down. In the animal kingdom, Bank of America would not exactly be the alpha male lion. Rather, the bank would be one of the other males, which may or may not get to reproduce.
                                          Having a sign and logo means that reputational capital is or ought to be considered in formulating a business strategy.   WSJ
The Journal reports that Bank of America shelved plans in November 2012 for new fees that would have “hit at least 10 million customers” by the end of that year. The decision to “shelve” the plans means that new fees on checking accounts were still possible in the following year. To be sure, other big banks too big to fail, such as J.P. Morgan and Wells Fargo had also announced plans that “aim to raise fee revenue or push customers to do more business with them as low interest rates, slow economic growth and tough new rules limit bank profits.” Those plans too are unpopular with customers. While one might expect this, there is reason to suspect that the concern is justified.
First, pushing customers to use more of their bank’s products is manipulatory. Retaining customers in the long run is achieved by matching particular customers only with the products that are of value to them. Satisfying customer desires, rather than pushing customers into products, is the basis of sustained sales. Indeed, customers appreciate a sincere effort to more fully accommodate them—rather than to manipulate or pressure them. For example, pressuring an older couple to take money out of a 401K to invest in riskier devices because the bank (and banker) make more money off the transactions does not respect or fit with what is in the couple’s interest—which is to retire with a secure nest-egg.
Second, creating new fees on checking accounts “opens banks up to criticism that they are punishing lower-income customers with policies that encourage users to hold larger balances and use multiple products.” Such “low-balance depositors don’t have a lot of money for [a bank] to make money off of,” according to Paul Miller of FBR Capital Markets. In other words, from the standpoint of making money, trying to squeeze juice out of a radish rather than an orange is not terribly smart or effective. Exacerbating the financial dire-straits of low-income/wealth depositors is also ethically problematic, as the bank is in a better condition financially. Indeed, knowingly inflicting harm, as in “you must pay more or we ‘can’t’ handle your account,” is violates Kant’s kingdom of ends (rational nature as not just a means, but also an end in itself) and triggers Hume’s sentiment of disapprobation (i.e., judgment of unethical conduct).
So in this case, business ethics is on the side of the financials. Moreover, because a bank has essentially free use of funds in checking (but not savings) accounts, charging depositors fees while the bank has the benefit of the funds is not fair to the depositors. To be sure, the 20% of Bank of America’s depositors who maintain low-balances each ostensibly cost the bank a few hundred dollars a year, though this figure probably includes over-head costs. It is not necessarily good business to apply them to every segment of one’s customer base, and an ethical argument could be made that essentially waiving the “spreading out” of fixed costs for low-income customers is legitimate. However, other customers could legitimately object to the subsidy implied in applying fix costs to some but not all customers or products.
I also wonder whether the “few hundred dollars” figure takes account of all of the benefits that the bank obtains from the funds deposited. It could also be that BOA “suffers” the loss due to its own ineptitude, rather than any economic or ethical argument that the depositors should pay more for the benefits they obtain from having checking accounts. Those benefits can be viewed as that which the bank legitimately incurs or provides in exchange for being able to make money off of the deposited funds. If the bank does a bad job of making the money off the deposits (e.g., incurring excessive risk, making bad acquisitions, and having a bad management overall), this does not justify charging depositors, whose funds, after all, the bank can use to lend at interest. Low interest rates do not mean that the customer should all of a sudden pay more, as if the bank's costs associated with managing the accounts had increased as a consequence. In other words, the stockholders (and executives) rather than the depositors (especially the low-balance ones!) should take the hit instead.

For a bank to get both a benefit from deposited funds and charge depositors fees (or require them to use other products of the bank) as though for providing the funds is like a store customer charging a grocery store for the privilege of providing the customer with food. No one would accept such an arrangement, so the resistance of bank customers to new fees on checking accounts is legitimate, especially in the case of Bank of America, whose managerial track-record is checkered at best.
Lastly, in terms of PR, “holding off on fees is a smart move from a public-relations perspective,” according to Paul Miller. However, publicly holding off sends a signal of weakness, even defeat, which undercuts depositors’ confidence in the bank. Miller himself makes the observation that banks “cannot continue to be on the front page.” This is an indication of how low the sector’s reputational capital had fallen by 2012. Indeed, Ken Lewis’s decision to buy Countrywide (subprime mortgage servicer) and Merrill Lynch, whose respective CEOs had run those companies into excessive risk (an understatement), was itself highly corrosive to the bank’s reputation. Foolishly trying to improve profit-margins by adding fees to low-balance depositors just reinforces the public’s observation that the managers at BOA are not exactly the smartest guys in the room.
To be in the banking sector, one should be intrinsically oriented to nurturing and sustaining long-term relationships in line with a steady, reasonable profit. Promoting traders into upper management is not the way to see to it that the mentality becomes infused throughout a bank. The repeal of Glass-Steagall, which had separated commercial from investment banking, and the subsequent refusal of Congress and the White House to put the law into the Dodd-Frank financial reform law of 2010 means that the underlying problem at banks such as BOA might be the interlarding of a business mentality ill-suited to banking itself.

Source:

Shayndi Raice and Robin Sidel, “Bank of America Backs Down On New Fees,” The Wall Street Journal, December 1-2, 2012.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Getting Employees to Lobby: Fix the Debt

How far a boss can ethically become involved in an employee’s political role as a citizen is a question perhaps more important than whether a business should make demands regarding what an employee does in the privacy of his or her own home (e.g., smoking or drinking products that are legal). It would obviously be objected, for example, were a supervisor to insist on accompanying a subordinate into the voting booth to verify the vote. What about pressuring an employee to lobby as a private citizen in the company’s interest without being paid for that work? Is it even work when it is “voluntarily” done on “off-time”? Finally, would it make a difference if the issue held systemic importance—meaning if it were vital to the country itself or at least the economic system—and the particular stance being advocated by the boss had value in solving the systemic problem (i.e., not just in the company’s interest)?
 
                 Federal U.S. deficits as a percentage of GDP from 1792 (2012-2016 projected). Notice that the projections take the deficits down from 2008-2010 levels. Notice also 1960-2010 as differing significantly from the "episodic" pattern in the 1792-1930 period. Why?
 
As 2012 wound down, Congress and the American president found themselves embroiled in difficult negotiations to avoid the across-the-board budget cuts and the end of the Bush tax-breaks scheduled to begin with the new year. Both sides were using the media to (over)dramatize what was at stake, even calling the scheduled deficit-reduction a “fiscal cliff”—as if $500 billion in 2013 out of an economy of annual GDP of over $16 trillion were a cliff rather than an impediment to growth. Into that hypertrophy, CEO’s were making their positions known in meetings with Congressional leaders and the president.
Morgan Stanley’s CEO, James Gorman, sent an email to his company’s 16,000 financial advisors and branch managers in the U.S. urging them to contact their members of Congress to urge them to reach “a bipartisan compromise” on a deficit-reduction deal that would override the across-the-board cuts and the end of the tax breaks across all income levels subject to federal income tax. “No issue is more critical right now for the U.S. economy, the global financial markets and the financial well-being of our clients,” he wrote, “which is why I am asking you to participate in the democratic process and make your voice heard.” The CEOs of Caterpiller and Honeywell International also urged their respective employees to pressure their representatives in Congress to reach a compromise.
On the one hand, that Gorman explicitly asks his employees to participate suggests that the request is extrinsic to the employees’ jobs. No employee could be penalized for refusing, and the CEO did not have the right to verify a particular employee’s “participation.” Moreover, participation in the democratic process pertains to citizens, and is thus extrinsic to the role of employee at a company. That is to say, it could be argued that a boss has no business involving himself what, if anything, an employee does in the democratic process—that domain being off limits. The pressuring could be viewed in terms of that process as one citizen trying to pressure others to do his will politically—something any citizen on the receiving end has a right to be without. This stance can be modified, or mediated, however, by the substance of the request.
That no “issue is more critical right now for the U.S. economy [and] the global financial markets” means that the value of the request is not merely to the company or even its customers—there is a larger stake involved. The larger element implies a civic duty of sorts, which even CEOs—being human after all—can feel and act on with a sense of higher calling than merely protecting their jobs and companies. Were an asteroid heading for Earth, no one would complain should the CEO of even an asteroid-destruction company urge his or her employees to pressure members of Congress to act on the threat—even if it would mean that the company gets a lucrative contract as a result. Of course, if the “fiscal cliff” rhetoric were outsized relative to the actual threat at hand, the play for democratic participation would be over-played from this standpoint and employees should feel any civic obligation in turn. In fact, employees could refuse their CEO’s request as a way of “just saying NO” to the constructed theatrics in Washington.
Beyond the question of “higher purpose,” the substance of the CEO’s favored remedy is also relevant to whether he or she is “crossing the line.” In general, the more partisan the intimated or explicit recommendation to be lobbied, the more suspect the attempt to pressure employees to participate in the democratic process on the issue at hand. Gorman was on pretty solid ground in this respect, urging only that a bipartisan deal be reached. Better still, he could have suggested that employees use their own judgment in recommending particular solutions but urge their members of Congress to be sure to come to a deal at the end of the day.
However, if the “fiscal cliff” rhetoric was exaggerated theatrics designed by politicians to get more attention, Gorman’s assumption that the important thing was that a deal be reached could have been wrong. From the standpoint of reducing the federal deficit in 2013, the “cliff” could be preferable to any deal likely to come at the end of 2012. Such a deal could be a two-parter that would have less overall impact on the deficit. In this case, Gorman should have urged his employees to pressure their federal representatives not to compromise on deficit-reduction, even if that means “going over the cliff.”
Perhaps the least legitimate plea for participation is that which is highly partisan or self-serving. Were Gorman to urge employees to support President Obama’s position on tax rates, for example, the employees could rightly object to their boss’s interference into their politics. As an example of a self-serving position, Lloyd Blankfein—the CEO of Goldman Sachs who had told a journalist that Goldman was doing “God’s work”—was urging Congress to cut entitlement programs to the poor while retaining subsidies (including in taxation) for business including Goldman Sachs. He told CBS, “You’re going to have to do something, undoubtedly, to lower people’s expectations of what they’re going to get.” Of course, the Wall Street executive was referring to other people.
Blankfein was taking part in the “Fix the Debt” group, the CEO members of which were publicly urging cuts to Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid to reduce the federal deficit for 2013. Whereas those CEOs had amassed personal retirement assets averaging more than $9.1 million, less than 60 percent of the publicly-traded companies represented offered pension plans for their employees at the time. Of the 41 companies that did, the Huffington Post reports that 39 of them had not contributed enough to their workers’ pension funds to enable the plans to pay out their anticipated obligations. For the CEOs to be advocating austerity for others—while the executives’ own companies slacked on pensions for their employees even as they received government subsidies (including tax deductions)—without also advocating austerity for themselves—such as by reducing subsidies to business and corporate deductions—goes beyond garden-variety selfishness to include a certain callousness toward others. Were those CEOs also pressuring their employees to “participate in the democratic process” to “Fix the Debt,” those employees would have been fully justified ethically and politically to “just say NO.”
Besides the point that those who can afford to do with less should not demur from placing their chits on the table too when it comes to reducing the deficit, cutting sustenance-benefits from the most vulnerable could be argued to be ethically unfair, if not sociopathic, particularly from the perspective of Rawls’ theory of justice. From the standpoint of this theory, Blankfein’s prescription is simply a reflection of his standpoint. It follows that employees could justifiably object to pressure from Blankfein to “participate in the democratic process” so the bank could continue to get its subsidies while citizens who are the most vulnerable, including fired bankers whose unemployment compensation expires, take the hit.
In short, a boss urging his or her employees to participate in the democratic process is a controversial question. Generally speaking, employers should regard their employees’ democratic participation as being in another domain from that of their work. More generally, that which pertains to a person’s employment role should not encroach onto other domains in a person’s life, and an employer should respect the limitations. However, extenuating circumstances can modify or mediate this stance. Most significantly, the more dire a problem is to the system as a whole, the more legitimacy a boss has in encouraging employees to “participate” in a solution. However, even in such a context, the more partisan and/or self-serving the stance being advocated is, the less legitimacy the employer has in applying the pressure.

Sources:

Damian Paletta and Kristina Peterson, “CEOs Flock to Capital to Avert ‘Cliff,” The Wall Street Journal, November 28, 2012.

Christina Wilkie, “’Fix The Debt’ CEOs Underfund Employee Retirement, Demand Cuts For Elderly,” The Huffington Post, November 27, 2012.

Ethan Rome, “Goldman Sachs CEO Lloyd Blankfein Wants Seniors to Get Less,” The Huffington Post, November 27, 2012.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

The U.S. House: Aristocratic Democracy-Deficit

The abrupt resignation of Jesse Jackson, Jr., from the U.S. House of Representatives only weeks after being re-elected gave Democratic politicians in Chicago a rare opportunity to get a Congressional seat. According to the New York Times, such seats “in Democratic strongholds” of Chicago “do not come open very often, and when they do, a line forms fast.” According to Debbie Halvorson, who ran against Jackson, “If someone is thinking of becoming a congresswoman or congressman, this might be their only chance. Whoever gets this will have it forever, they say. That’s why everyone wants to take a chance.” In other words, the office is a sort of personal entitlement. From a democratic standpoint, this represents “slippage.”

The reason for the two-year term in the U.S. House is to render the representatives responsive to their respective electorates or constituents. The six-year term in the U.S. Senate was chosen for precisely the opposite reason—that such a term would give the senators some breathing room from the “real-time” demands of their respective states. The bicameral result would ideally be a check and balance of the people’s momentary passions and deliberation on the country’s best interests beyond today. Having a House seat “forever” renders its occupant immune, at least potentially, from having to respond legislatively to contemporary demands “back home.” Indeed, having the job for life, an incumbent might even move to Washington, D.C., with only occasional visits “back home.” With only 435 members representing a combined population of about 310 million (as of 2012), the U.S. House is already aristocratic in nature; a re-election rate for incumbents up for re-election of over 90% and certain seats being virtually life-time appointments render the “people’s House” akin to a House of Lords.

Because the U.S. Senate was intended to represent the propertied interest as well as the states, an aristocratic House gives the elite too much institutional power in the U.S. Government. Other things equal, the democratic element—that of the people—will in theory eventually revolt. Were the imbalance in favor of the masses, the propertied would soon “opt out” too. Hence, the delegates at the U.S. constitutional convention in 1787 intentionally fashioned a federal government reflecting “the one, the few, and the many” in a sort of balance.

The U.S. President is “the one”—the antecedent being the imperial monarch. The U.S. Senate and the U.S. Supreme Court both refer to “the few.” The U.S. House, being at first the sole repository of democracy in the U.S. Government, was to represent “the many.” As in juggling, if one ball joins one of the others rather than there being three separated equidistantly, the balance is off and all of the balls are likely to be dropped. At the very least, the pernicious impact of the imbalance can be lessened by shifting domains of authority back to the governments of the member-states.

                                    Even though the U.S. House Chamber looks large, it represents 310 million people.   Source: Britannica

Additionally, the U.S. House could be enlarged to the size of the European Parliament—both containing representatives of a people spanning an empire in scope. Lest it be concluded that such a size is nonetheless unwieldy for a legislative body, it could be argued that the “extended republic” has become too big for even a “repository of democracy,” in which case we are back to the notion that power could be transferred back to the states—many of which have populations equal to or exceeding that of the United States when the U.S. Constitution was formulated and ratified.

Accordingly, several of the states might consider adopting federalism—the states’ “states” (i.e., provinces, “countries” (in UK), cantons, or lander in European terms) might be as the early state legislatures were in the early United States (i.e.., citizen representatives serving for a time). Put another way, the large and medium republics in the U.S. as of the end of the twentieth century at least may themselves be commensurate with the early U.S. as a whole from the standpoint of population and representative democracy. Even so, the diversity within a given state is not as great as that which exists even in 2012 from state to state. Europeans who travel from New York to Miami and on to San Francisco and maybe Utah discover that the United States do indeed differ cultural, albeit in different ways perhaps than the member-states do at home in the European Union. Even though less diverse internally than interstate, some of the United States are internally diverse enough—and populous enough—to warrant the application of federalism to those republics such that legislatures covering a number of counties could be formed and given a portion of the state’s remaining sovereignty. Just as the E.U. deals directly with regions of states, the U.S. could as well.

In short, the U.S. House of Representatives, being in many respects an aristocratic body—the advent of which some of the founders, particularly the anti-federalists, anticipated back in 1787—enlarging that chamber democratically AND extending federalism down into the states could lessen the democratic deficit in the system overall.  

Source:

Steven Yaccino and Monica Davey, “Illinois Sets Election Dates to Replace Jackson in House,” The New York Times, November 27, 2012.

Monday, November 26, 2012

The Filibuster: States' Rights or a Partisan Ploy?

Before 1917, senators could filibuster only by talking continuously on the U.S. Senate floor. There was no mechanism to stop them. Such filibusters were rare until entering World War I was debated. In 1917, the Senate passed its first “cloture” rule, whereby two-thirds of the Senate could cut off debate and force a final vote. Between that year and 1971, no two-year session of Congress had more than 10 such votes. Even so, in 1971 the rules were changed to allow other legislation to be taken up during a filibuster—relieving a senator of having to continuously talk to maintain one. Making it easier to filibuster quickly led to the predictable result of more filibusters. In the 93rd Congress (1973-74), the number of cloture motions jumped to 31, from an average in the 1917-1971 period of two per Congressional session. In 1975, the number of votes needed to stop a filibuster was lowered from 67 to 60. However, this change did not curtail the use of the device, as it is rare for a party to control 60 votes out of 100 in the U.S. Senate. By 2010, the average number of cloture motions per two-year session had risen to 129, which suggests that the filibuster had become more typical in how senate business was to be conducted. In effect, legislation and even executive business, such as confirming presidential nominations, needed a supermajority (60 out of 100) in the upper chamber of Congress.



The complete essay is at "Is the E.U. a Federal System?"

Non-Tariff Barriers to Trans-Atlantic Trade

Karel De Gucht, the E.U. trade commissioner, said in late November 2012, “There is now, for the first time in years, a serious drive towards an E.U.-U.S. free-trade agreement.” The office of his counterpart, Ron Kirk, the U.S. trade representative, indicated that a high-level working-group consisting of Europeans and Americans was working on “how best to increase U.S.-E.U. trade and investment.” The sticking point concerned non-tariff barriers, such as different regulatory standards.
Karel De Gucht, the E.U. Trade Commissioner, advocating a free-trade pact with the U.S.  (Reuters).
The full essay is at "E.U. & U.S."

Expansion at Volkswagen: Minimizing Risk in E.U.?

It is perhaps common among gigantic corporations, such as the major automobile manufacturers, to assume that current profitability is likely to be augmented by expansion. Economies of scale are presumed to outpace diseconomies as even a large company expands. At a more basic level, it is generally assumed that if a company is not expanding, it is necessarily facing its downfall. The notions of equilibrium and steady state are fundamentally at odds with the more, more, more mantra of mammon. Accordingly, it can be asked whether efforts to strengthen a company’s equilibrium are more in line with long-term profitability. The very expression, strengthening an equilibrium is étranger or foreign to business parlance.

image

                                                      A car is assembled in the E.U. in 2012, potentially countering austerity measures in some states.   AP

By the end of 2012, Volkswagen had announced plans to invest €50 billion ($65 billion) in the global operations over the next three years. Much of the money was directed to expand the company’s operations outside of Europe. Two other European auto companies, BMW and Daimler, were also engaged in record investment programs outside of Europe. Taking advantage of greater-than-expected auto sales in North America and China can be a good way to limit the recessionary impact of the European debt-crisis and the related “austerity” budget-cuts at the state level. I say “can be” because assessing the automobile market in China from Europe involves risk. The workings of the Chinese government are not exactly transparent and the Chinese culture is not necessarily well-understood by Europeans (or Americans), so the Chinese auto market could quickly shift in quantity and even desired type of cars being sought without European managers seeing it coming. Even so, shifting operations globally away from problematic countries is generally a benefit of being a multinational corporation in terms of reducing the recessionary head-winds facing the company. This requires that the “flaps” on “both wings” shift so the entire plane can turn decisively.
However, if the motive is expansion per se, the international strategy is not one primarily of hedging risk. That is, the hedging effect can be muted. In fact, there could be little impact on risk-exposure, or it could actually increase. Of the €50 billion oriented to international expansion at Volkswagen, €23 billion was to be directed, en fait, to modernizing and expanding plants as well as research and development sites in the E.U. While of benefit to the E.U. in countering the recessionary impact of budget cuts in some states (though expanding in the state of Germany while Greece and Spain continue to founder could further compromise European integration), expanding in the E.U. effectively undercuts the hedging function of expanding abroad. Moreover, the underlying motive can be said to be expansion rather than reducing risk.
Whereas reducing overall risk strengthens or reinforces a company’s equilibrium, expansion taken as an end in itself, going outward as if the spray shooting out of a shotgun, can actually increase the risk because more is at stake. Expansion, being inherently general, can obfuscate efforts to be strategic. Furthermore, once the economies of scale in being a major multinational corporation have been achieved, further expansion risks triggering diseconomies of scale outpacing any additional economies from a still-larger scale. So it might be worth pondering how an equilibrium can be strengthened in a way that does not simply feed the urge for more, more, more—an instinct that can be counter-productive in the long term.  

Source:
Vanessa Fuhrmans, “German Car Makers Hit Road,” The Wall Street Journal, November 25, 2012.

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Steve Jobs: The Sad Truth about Visionary Leadership

According to Joe Nocera, Steve Jobs was not a consensus-builder but a dictator. Lest it be objected that this disqualifies him from being admitted to the “true leader” hall of fame, Nocera hints at an explanation for why visionary leaders may not be all that touchy-feely after all. Nocera suggests that Jobs was a dictator because he “listened mainly to his own intuition.” He “never stopped relying on his singular instincts in making decisions” on Apple products. This makes complete sense, as his sense was singular. 
                               Steve Jobs at Apple. Is it the vision or charisma that accounts for the focus on such pictures?   Getty
 
In other words, Steve Jobs’ subordinates did not have the sense or intuition that came out of Jobs’ vision, so it makes sense that the visionary leader viewed his employees as not getting it. In fact, the sheer ideational distance between the world that Jobs imagined and that which held his subordinates could be expected to result in frustration, and even berating and blame, almost as part of visionary leadership itself.
Frederick Allen makes the point that Jobs’ “exceptional and unique vision and certainty of what he saw” did not excuse his tyrannical behavior, but, rather, made it necessary. Allen adds that this harsh side of leadership was effectively countered in terms of respect by Jobs’ charisma. That is, the force of his personality led employees to miss him nonetheless. It could be argued, however, that it was Jobs’ passion that he had for his vision, rather than charisma per se, that led his followers to respect him as a leader even in spite of his tongue. Passion oriented to a vision essentially bypasses the leader so the venture is “larger than self” and therefore not mere selfishness. This is not to say that Jobs was selfless.
Moreover, Steve Jobs is a useful exemplar for people who are interested in leadership because he can serve as a valuable check against all the attributions of personal ideology that are said to be necessary to leadership itself. Specifically, leadership is supposed to be about affirming others-helping them to develop (e.g., Burns’ transformational leadership) or feel warm and fuzzy inside. Leadership is about serving (e.g., Covey’s Servant Leadership). Can you imagine what Steve Jobs would say about such theories being applied as though velvet-gloved weapons at Apple? The example that Jobs evinced extends beyond himself to the uncomfortable conclusion that difficult interpersonal relations may be part and parcel of visionary leadership, even if passion or charisma makes up for the “tyranny” in terms of respect. Remember that Adolf Hitler was a charismatic leader who had a vision for Germany, and, perhaps not coincidently, he was hardly the “warm and fuzzy” guy to his subordinates. The mechanism linking a passionate vision and the gears of its implementation requires a lot of lubrication.
This is not to say that visionary leaders must inevitably manifest the downside that is in the leadership itself. Applying Nietzsche’s philosophy, I contend that the truly exceptional visionary leader is one who masters (rather than represses) the seemingly-insurmountable instinct or urge to let the frustration show. Mastering self-discipline and patience does not mean, however, that such a leader does not feel frustration and even disgust at the “minions” or “dwarfs” who just don’t get it. The ideal of visionary leadership does not exclude these feelings, but, rather, masters them. From the vantage-point of this height, Steve Jobs can be seen as having fallen short even by the standards of visionary leadership. Even so, that he manifested leadership proffers the valuable lesson that reducing leadership to “serving” and “transforming” followers is severely flawed and unfair to the leaders themselves. Indeed, the hegemony of the "touchy-feely" attributes can be uncovered as tyrannical in nature, and the new birds of prey who impose them can thus be deprived of their normative weapon of choice, which is none other than moral guilt.
 

Source:

Frederick Allen, “Steve Jobs Broke Every Leadership Rule. Don’t Try It Yourself,” Forbes, August 27, 2011.