JP Morgan CEO Jamie Dimon Talks about Hiring, Firing and What Makes a Great Leader

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The November issue of Vanity Fair is out and within it is an extremely long and quite favorable exposé of the real Jamie Dimon. You can read the entire thing here. For those seeking only the edited highlights, the article confirms that Dimon’s father was a banker (JPMorgan, Merrill, Citi & Shearson Lehman), that he’s quite impervious to wealth.

“I always think of him as somewhat rumpled. He is oblivious to the trappings of very fancy things,” says Heidi Miller, that he’s very narcissistic, that he has fantasies about eventually retiring and setting up a small bar and that his favorite song is, “Stand by Me.”

Most interestingly, the article reveals that if you’re interviewing for a senior role at JPMorgan, there is a test that Jamie Dimon likes to apply to people. One of JP Morgan's employees reveals that one of Dimon's favorite questions, when talking about giving someone a big job here, he’ll say, ‘Would you want your child to work for that person?”

Notably, this is along the same lines as Dimon’s mother test, whereby he advises staff to gauge how well they’re treating female staff by asking whether they’d treat their mothers that way.

Unlike other Wall Street CEOs who had been traders, bankers or financial advisors, Dimon never had a revenue-producing-line position at a Wall Street firm. According to one former senior JP Morgan executive, "He never had to think of having that internal governor like those of us who worked their way up the totem pole in their 20s, 30s, and 40s did. He never had to tolerate or be subjected to a true 360-degree review.”

Still, to some Dimon is the best Wall Street leader around precisely because he has always been in management and has always had an intuitive feel for—and as some say, a genuine love of the “plumbing” of the business, from how checks get processed to how to connect disparate computer systems.

Dimon himself is quoted as saying, “there’s no question that adversity, problems, stuff like that, make you a better leader." He adds that over the years he's "become more respectful of other people, more respectful of mistakes."

As for his personal assessment of how he became so successful, he replies, "I don’t think I’ve changed fundamentally since I’ve been eight years old. Part of it is just also embedded in me. I want to do the best I can. I try to be very open. I try to admit my mistakes. It doesn’t mean I’m not tough. I try to treat everyone fairly, from the mail room guy to the C.E.O. I’ve seen people, when they get into these bigger and bigger jobs, it goes to their heads. I’ve seen it. Some people in life change who they are, and some don’t. I’m basically the same guy I’ve always been.”

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