Corporate America saw two of its CEOs under fire this week on Capitol Hill, and management experts said Thursday their performances left a lot to be desired.
Both Mylan CEO Heather Bresch and Wells Fargo CEO John Stumpf were unprepared and did not show genuine contrition, said Jeff Sonnenfeld, senior associate dean for leadership studies at Yale School of Management and a CNBC contributor.
Bresch was grilled Wednesday by the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform over her company’s decision to hike the price of lifesaving anti-allergy EpiPens by more than 500 percent in the last several years. She and her company were accused of “disgusting” greed and getting “filthy rich.”
On Tuesday, Stumpf was lambasted in front of the Senate Banking Committee for his company’s deceptive sales practices, with Sen. Elizabeth Warren calling for a criminal probe and Stumpf’s resignation.
“Neither one of them showed there was any atonement, any ways to correct for these problems. It’s pretty upsetting. In both cases there’s a huge loss of trust — public health trust and financial trust,” Sonnenfeld said in an interview with CNBC’s “Closing Bell.”
Brad Agle, a professor at Brigham Young University and author of “The Business Ethics Field Guide,” said it was “unbelievable” how unprepared both CEOs were.
“Really watching this was like watching Clinton-Trump. It’s like a race to the bottom. You’re just watching the train wreck happen as it occurred,” he told “Closing Bell.”
Sonnenfeld said both Stumpf and Bresch were weak CEOs and “succession disasters” who had highly charismatic predecessors.
However, one thing they did do was unite a very contentious Congress, he said.
“Both of these CEOs managed to accomplish the near impossible,” said Sonnenfeld. “They managed to unify two of the most fractious congressional bodies and one of the most ideologically charged Congresses … in our history.”