Silent killers are the fourth and final group of CEOs.

Silent killers are the fourth and final group of CEOs. These CEOs are overlooked and ignored sources of harm to their firms. While scoundrels are closely monitored and scrutinized by the media, it may be too late before the poor ethics or incompetence of the silent killers is detected. In this sense, silent killers are sometimes worse than scoundrels. One example of a silent killer is Harding Lawrence, former CEO of defunct Braniff International. Lawrence initiated a massive expansion of the airline following industry deregulation in the late 1970s. The result was a bloated firm, ill-equipped to survive the extremely competitive setting that evolved in the early 1980s. Howard Putnam, the CEO of a small regional carrier named Southwest Airlines, was hired in a failed effort to save the company. By the time Braniff went bankrupt, Putnam was left to explain its demise, and the name of the main culprit was all but forgotten. Ironically, had Putnam declined the opportunity to try to save Braniff, perhaps he and not Herb Kelleher would have become an icon at the helm of Southwest.

Strategy at the Movies

Iron Man

Has Tony Stark gone crazy? This was the question that many stakeholders of Stark Industries were asking themselves in the 2008 blockbuster Iron Man. Tony Stark, CEO of Stark Industries, stunned his shareholders, employees, and the world when he announced that he was changing Stark Industries’ mission from being one of the world’s leading weapons manufacturers to being a socially responsible, clean energy producer. Following his announcement, Stark faced fierce opposition from his board of directors, employees, the media, and clients such as the US military. The changes at Stark Industries attracted tremendous attention in part because of the glamorous Stark’s status as a celebrity CEO. Initially,


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