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The Rise of the Rogue Executive: How Good Companies Go Bad and How to Stop the Destruction by Cynthia J. Smith, Leonard R. Sayles

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Chapter 13. Seeking and Valuing Real Leadership

You can trust Americans to do the right thing...after they have tried every other alternative.

—Winston Churchill

Most of the CEOs of corporations accused of accounting fraud and related misdeeds defend themselves by claiming ignorance and lack of involvement. Their attorneys’ arguments have a simple minded and, for some, persuasive logic. CEOs focus on making big decisions: strategy, acquisitions, and the like.

CEOs have delegated the running of the company to trustworthy subordinates, so the story goes. Thus, they have no knowledge of inappropriate or illegal activities that might have been taking place. No one told them, and they never asked. Overeager subordinates could have misinterpreted the CEO’s ...

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