Why do so many ex-CEOs flop in their next jobs? I forget who I first heard the phrase "CEO disease" from--that after 5 years of everybody you come in contact with telling you you are brilliant and that your every thought is the best thought ever, you come to believe it and are thereafter useless for any purpose.
From his eyrie in the heart of the Eternal City, Robert Waldmann thinks this now applies to Mitt Romney:
Robert's Stochastic Thoughts: I have always assumed that Romney must be smart, because of the way in which he acquired great wealth. Yes he was ruthless and dishonest (the real scandal is what is legal). But there are lots of greedy ruthless dishonest people and the vast majority are no where near as good at it.
But he's campaigning like an idiot.
Affirmative action sometimes puts some people in very uncomfortable situations -- admission to a ruthlessly competitive University based on the assumption that a student's potential exceeds academic performance so far (due to say come on being taught at school in Malay-Indonesian for much of one's childhood) puts gigantic pressure on some people. One reacted by acquiring work habits and self discipline I can't even dream of.
Being sole shareholder chairman of the board of directors CEO and President of a company can put people in a too comfortable position -- surrounded by flatterers and able to settle all debates by authority. I suspect that this can lead to an erosion of the ability to think critically. Romney seems to think that he still has the power to settle debates just by saying they are settled. If so he can't campaign or govern.
How many CEOs have ever gone on to be successful at anything else? Unless you define being a CEO as success by definition (as we do) how many have been successful CEOs?
The only standard of comparison is other CEOs -- if they are generally incompetent because of vanity and lazy brain syndrome how would we know. Is there any evidence against the wildly speculative hypothesis that the vast majority have lost their ability to think straight, because of years of flattery?