Category Archives: Bain & Company

Romney’s A Leader, Not a Manager

Mitt Romney, former governor of Massachusetts,...

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Newt Gingrich has said on multiple occasions that “Romney is a capable manager” when referring to what kind of leader he would be as President. But when you study Mitt’s business background, the “manager” term is quite laughable.

It may sound like the national budget today, but the crisis was Bain & Company in the late 1990s. The Boston consulting firm was in deep trouble. Workers and clients were starting to jump ship. Mitt Romney was called in to save the day.

“There’s nobody that I can conceive of who could have come into that fractious situation, and pull that together,” said Clay Christensen, a former Romney colleague who’s now a professor at Harvard Business School.

As interim CEO of Bain & Company, Romney negotiated with banks to buy time. He convinced employees and clients to stay on. And most spectacularly, he won $130 million in concessions from the founding partners, including Bill Bain, the very man who brought in Romney to fix the mess. Christensen says it was Romney’s crowning business achievement.

“I know Nancy Pelosi very well and I know a number of the Republican leaders,” Christensen said. “Pulling those guys together is a lot easier than pulling Bain together.”

It was a remarkable political feat, considering that Romney built his career not on bringing people together, but rather on bringing companies in line. In 1984, Romney was chosen to run a spinoff venture of Bain’s consulting business — not because he was a consensus builder, but because he was a tireless pragmatic.

No “Manager” could ever pull off what Romney did. This is leadership that is desperately needed given the desperate times that lay ahead.

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