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Hi, I'm Kevin Coupe and this is FaceTime with the Content Guy, posting this morning from Las Vegas, Nevada, where the National Grocers Association Show has just wrapped up.
One of the stories that "keeps on giving," in the sense that there are either developments that lead to new stories or email from people within the organization, is the ongoing turmoil at Supervalu. In just a few weeks, if the deal with Cerberus is completed as expected, it will be a new company. it already has a new CEO. And I suspect that there will continue to be changes there as the folks in charge look to reshape the company into something that is viable and sustainable.
I do think that, while there no doubt will be more pain felt in the ranks, we have to give these folks and little bit of room to develop and implement their plans. Clearly, because of years of mismanagement and misjudgments, Supervalu was in pretty lousy shape. It won't be fixed overnight. And it won't be fixed without more blood - at least some of it from the good, hard-working and dedicated people who have given the company their best shot. That's a shame, and I'm humbled that MNB has become a place where they've had a chance to vent their emotions and explain their positions. It will continue to be that place, as long as you need it.
I have no idea what Supervalu will look like in a few months or a few years. I do think that management there has to pay more attention to the optics of what they do. In the end, much of the resentment within the ranks comes from the millions of dollars being paid to executives who either were not there very long or didn't seem to do the company much good. Most of the people I know don't begrudge senior executives their salaries and bonuses ... they just want to feel that a) they are commensurate with performance, and b) seem to be somewhere in the same universe as everyone else working at the company. I think that is fair.
The big bucks being paid out are not a Supervalu problem. They are an American problem.
I respect people like Jim Sinegal and Steve Jobs, who got most of their compensation based on stock performance ... and then never seemed to do things purely to goose the stock, but rather focused on creating companies with lasting value. I have less respect for people who seem to think that he or she with the biggest salary and bonus wins ... because these people seem to have forgotten that in order to be leaders, you have to be able to get people to follow you. And part of that means being relatable.
Just look at the story of Don Marsh, who is on trial for essentially looting his publicly owned supermarket chain for as much as he could - accused of using company assets for his own pleasure.
Or at the case of Jean-Marc Saubade, who, as we reported yesterday, was fired from his job as head of the Consumer Goods Forum (CGF) "in disgrace" because he was apparently was so busy creating a personal empire that he forgot to lead the people who worked for him or to serve most of the companies that were his customers.
These days, I don't think that kind of leadership - the leadership of narcissism - is sustainable. I do think that we live in a world where big salaries and big bonuses are how people keep score, and we'll need some major, high-profile downfalls for that culture to change. Executive have to be willing to say that just because they can get something doesn't mean they should get something.
It is more important than ever to understand that leaders have to lead, and that means being able to relate to and inspire the people on the front lines. The facts have to be right, and the optics have to be right.
That's what is on my mind this Thursday morning. As always, I want to hear what is on your mind.
- KC's View: