Given the money they make, given the power they have, chief executives need to struggle to avoid becoming tyrants, Krishna P. Singh told me during our Leadership Agenda interview published in Monday's Philadelphia Inquirer.
Question: What is the biggest and most common mistake a CEO can make?
Answer: Become a tyrant, especially in a private company, as opposed to a public company. In a public company, the CEO has some checks on him in the market place. There's a board of directors. But a private company is the last bastion of feudalism I say, because one can be arbitrary, one can be egotistical. One can be uncaring.
Q: So what's your method for avoiding that?
A: When I go to bed at night, I pray to God that I have the humility and wisdom to do the job he wants me to do. And I'm not a religious person. I pray every night -- because it is so easy to get caught up in your own success. You think you have done it all, but the truth is – I haven't. I've just gotten a lot of breaks in my life. I look at everybody here. They have a family to support. They live in a universe. They have their dreams. I have to respect that – to make sure they have their dignity and that their professionalism is enhanced here, not detracted. It is so easy to do that. A guy with a mortgage and a family and bills who lives paycheck to paycheck – you can intimidate that guy. And to understand the responsibility to treat him with as much dignity as I expect to be treated myself: All I ask God is to give me the wisdom not to stray from that path.
Singh's company, Holtec International, announced in July that it would build a major manufacturing plant in Camden and move its corporate headquarters there. You can read Monday's blog post about building a workforce in Camden by clicking here.