I read this book without knowing the background of Hewlett-Packard (HP) or its performance during its six years under the helm of former Chairman and CEO, Carly Fiorina.
I heard that Fiorina was fired by the Board under mysterious circumstances. She told her side of the story in this memoir.
Written by herself without the aide of a ghostwriter, Tough Choices is a systematic and lucid account of Fiorina's success story. She is a very good communicator and, without the benefit of the events leading to her dismissal, I was quite convinced by her account. According to Fiorina, her dismissal was a conspiracy of 3 of the Board members who had longed for power and control of the Fortune 500 company. In the eyes of Fiorina, these 3 people were villains and she was the victim of the power struggle. However, readers may wonder if the CEO had been capable and the stock had performed well, why the Board wouldn't have kept the CEO in place while pocketing hefty directors' fees and stock options?
Having said that, I still admire Fiorina for achieving what she had attained. I especially like her insistence on dismissing gender as a factor in her success. Her success is about tough choices, and how she made it without selling her soul and compromising her integrity.
The book is well-written. Her take on leadership is the best I have ever read - it's better than any management textbook. "Leadership means character, capability and collaboration." You can look at those CEOs around you and see if these are their attributes and how the companies fare under their leadership. Fiorina sums it up nicely.
I have to say my impression of Fiorina has been swayed after I read the reviews made by some HP employees, many of whom have worked with Fiorina. It seems that the only change or strategic direction made by Fiorina was massive lay-offs. Moreover, the stock price of HP kept falling during her six-year reign.
Maybe that was the reason of her demise in HP? You won't find the answer in this book though....Continua