His firm saddled with explaining the loss of at least $3 billion by his reckless investment unit on the other side of the pond, Jamie Dimon, head of JPMorgan Chase, seemed no worse for wear. Testifying before the Senate Banking Committee on Wednesday, Dimon looked dapper. Check out the photo on the cover of the New York Times (print version) and you see a happy man with the media at its knees to capture this moment. This is the photo the New York Times editors chose to use and it says something important about his image among journalists.
In the photo, Dimon stands proud, confident and chipper. You know he knows what he’s going to say and how he’s going to say it. He apologizes. He acknowledges the facts of the case and promises to put better internal processes in place to avoid rogue trading. He defends his company and most of his employees, minus the few vogue traders. He calls out other big banks for “greed, arrogance, hubris.” And he looks so upright and speaks so well as he says this that you separate his company from the “too big to fail” banks. Did I mention his bank lost at least $3 billion? Perhaps I digress…
JPMorgan has been a darling of the banking world, and Dimon the golden boy. And so he was praised by the lawmakers who cut him a tremendous amount of slack not because of the $3 billion losses (and mounting) but in part because Dimon – whatever your opinion of Wall Street may be – knows a thing or two about communications. He knows how to apologize. How to stand in a room full of reporters and lawmakers. How to talk to the media and bridge the message so it veers his way and the halo over his head only tilts ever so slightly for a minute. He developed strong relationships on the Hill and apparently with the media and he is reaping the rewards.
Speaking at a graduating class of Harvard MBAs in 2009, Dimon spoke of leadership: “The job of a leader is not to make a decision; it’s to make sure the best decision is made. To do that, you need to get the right people in the room.”
Clearly, during his testimony on the Hill, Dimon had the right people in the room.
— Diane Schwartz
On Twitter: @dianeschwartz