While Warren makes a strong case (producing a deer-in-the-headlights expression in Stumpf's moon-like face), she didn't detail ALL of the specific ways that Stumpf and his management team were gutless. Here's a quick list--and one to keep a watchful eye on, should similar violations appear at your own company:
1. They had an inspirational mission statement.
In companies like Wells Fargo, the function of a mission statement is to allow the CEO and other top executives to pretend that they're doing the right thing even when the company itself is actively screwing its customers.
This is, in part, an example of the Law of Inverse Relevance: "The less you intend to do about something, the more you have to keep talking about it." But there's also a bit of 2 Corinthians 11:14 at play: "For Satan himself masquerades as an angel of light."
2. They launched widespread "ethics" programs.
The main purpose of an "ethics program" (Wells Fargo had many) was to provide the company with plausible deniability. Such programs convince nobody but instead employees with between-the-lines cues of what management really wants.
Here's what I bet Wells Fargo's ethics courses were like: "Although you'll be fired if you don't make quota, you must NEVER fill out form 4567 without a customer's approval and leave the 'send email to customer' box unchecked. Because that would be wrong."
3. They give lip service to management responsibility.
Stumpf has repeatedly claimed to hold himself responsible but always twisting the concept so that he's no more responsible than anyone else. As Stumpf said on CNBC last week: "The buck stops with all of us, including me."
To jog your memory, "The Buck Stops Here" was Harry Truman's punch line to "in government everyone passes the buck when things go wrong. Well, the buck stops here." Stumpf is saying the exact opposite--that's everyone in the company is responsible.
4. They blame their employees for following orders.
During the financial meltdown of 2007, big company CEOs claimed that the bad mortgages and toxic credit swaps were the result of salespeople who weren't following the rules. (Even though those rules were obviously meant to be ignored.)
The problem with the "bad apple" defense is that it's meant to describe an exceptional case, as in the saying "one bad apple spoils the barrel." When you've got 5,300 bad apples, the problem lies with the idiot CEO who bought and maintained the barrel.
5. They demand risk-free rewards.
Real leadership means taking risk. Gutless leadership arises from insisting that you are rewarded even if you screw things up completely. Wells Fargo's management--like most financial industry screw-ups--clearly expects to earn big paychecks regardless of their actual performance.
According the most recent analysis, big company CEOs make almost 1,000 times as much money as their average employees. That they do this without any real downside risk is frankly insane.
To my mind, the real question is why do we have only one person, Senator Elizabeth Warren, attacking an industry that everyone knows is corrupt?
The answer: Congress is full of gutless leadership consisting of politicians whose mouths are too busy kissing billionaire butt to speak out and defend the 99 percent.