Carl Icahn: The Change Leader


The business world knows Carl Icahn, Founder of Icahn Capital Management, as a shark-like investor who doesn’t simply invests but seeks to control his target.

Such is Icahn’s takeover philosophy: he determines the company he believes is “under performing” then builds up a stake in the company. Subsequently, he tries to influence management or initiates a proxy war to takeover the company before giving it a new direction.

Cunning and ruthless as it may seem but for Icahn – it’s inevitably “doing something salutary, in that it’s a wake up call to chief executives and board of directors”.

True enough, many CEOs are just actually playing golf instead of really leading their companies. Notice the business landscape? The financial condition? Yet they’re paid millions and get even more opportunities.

Even as Icahn stated: “One of the major problems in our country, with many exceptions, are CEOs – and our corporations are run in a dysfunctional manner. It’s amazing when you get in there how badly they’re run. And we can get a lot done as activists”.

Here are just some questions or issues to ponder, to face up to.

How many leaders are courageous and confident enough to “recognize” this? If some supposed leaders just dilly dally and the business community “thinks” it’s normal- don’t you think that the business is just sustained by the products’ founded brand, and not the chief executive’s ability? By the few dedicated employees who could only go so far?

Why then continue to recruit or get similarly qualified replacements? Why still be structured with hiring policies, more so with executives? And consequently, why even expect greater employee engagement?

Some of your companies may not be as dysfunctional as Icahn described, but do you really have what it takes to “clean up” your organization? To promote change? To reengineer your company towards long-term profitability? To realign it before someone, you may have even ignored, exposes your incompetence?

Change has long been at hand, many were just not able to figure out a Carl Icahn.

What’s your take?