Jack MaLeadership Bonus for September goes out to Ma Yun, known in the West as Jack Ma, a former schoolteacher who is best known as the founder and Executive Chairman of Alibaba Group Holding China’s e-commerce company Alibaba, now the wealthiest man in China.

Alibaba’s IPO last Friday set a record for US Technology companies, raising over $21 billion, and reflecting a market cap of $231.4 billion. This is now the largest largest-ever U.S. technology IPO. The company’s business model generates strong free cash flow, and does not require a lot of capital, which is a very attractive model for investors. It represents lower risk, and very high returns.

Alibaba is the disruptor of the disruptors. Not only has Mr. Ma provided leadership to create the worlds largest ecommerce site, surpassing revenues of Amazon and Ebay combined, but his Alibaba (BABA) has also developed the first big B2B ecommerce portal.

Alibaba accounts for about 80 percent of all online retail sales in China, where rising Internet usage and an expanding middle class helped the company generate gross merchandise volume of $296 billion in the 12 months ended June 30.

Leadership Blunders this month is awarded to Centerplate (ex) CEO Desmond Hague. Centerplate is a catering company that services sports and entertainment venues around the country, such as Levi’s Stadium in San Francisco. The company has experienced growth under the leadership of Mr. Hague, who assumed CEO responsibility in 2009, but that all came to an end this month for Mr. Hague.

Mr. Hague’s departure from Centerplate resulted from an act of cruelty to a dog, which was captured on video taken from a downtown Vancouver B.C. condominium elevator.  In the video, Mr. Hague can be seen abusing a dog on a leash.  I have chosen not to post the video due to its violent nature.

What he evidently thought was an act committed in the privacy of an elevator turned out to have been an act seen by millions via the internet.  While the reasons behind why he was mistreating the dog in this cruel and inhumane manner have yet to be determined, thanks to building security passing the video to the British Columbia chapter of the S.P.C.A, calls for Mr. Hague to apologize, repent, and seek rehabilitation have been received from all over North America.

Some of the lessons learned include…

  1. Trust that takes a long time to build can be destroyed in an instant.  A leader needs to be consistent in character and integrity and to establish trust.  That trust is fragile, and under constant surveillance and testing.  When a leader falters, trust is on trial.  In this case, his friends and colleagues decided he couldn’t be trusted.
  2. Having a ‘dark and private’ side to one’s personality doesn’t work if it is vastly different than the public profile shown at work and online via social channels.  It’s important to be consistent in character at home, at work, at play.
  3. This type of event could happen to anyone.  Leaders are under great pressure to perform optimally for their stakeholders, and it’s very important to be aware of your emotions at all time, and never allow this raging emotion to emerge in any situation.

If you are a leader, and have two sides to your personality, one at work, and one (darker side) when you think you are in private, you are only fooling yourself.  I suggest cleaning up your act if that reflects your reality, and getting professional help if necessary.  The video demonstrates a very troubled side to Mr. Hague’s character, one that is obviously frustrated and angry. Unfortunately he decided to vent his frustration on the helpless and dependent dog, who could offer no defense.

This unfortunate event has become very public thanks to the internet, and has cost Mr. Hague his job.  He is most likely very embarrassed, and is probably something he wishes never happened. He probably would like a mulligan, a ‘do over’ that would somehow set the record straight. But when things like this happen, there are consequences.

Mr. Hague has to face family, friends, former stakeholders in his former company Centerplate, and others, and explain his bizarre behavior, repent, seek rehabilitation, and put this behind him.  With a good rebuilding plan he can recover, and contribute his skills as a trusted leader going forward.  That would be my hope, and I wish him well.

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