Warren Buffett had always spoken in such glowing terms of his Berkshire lieutenant, David Sokol, that the latter’s resignation last month was a complete shock to most.
But the jaws of some didn’t drop that far…
Apparently some of Sokol’s underlings “saw a side of him that Mr. Buffett perhaps did not,” the New York Times reports.
According to the Times, Sokol had a “brass-knuckled approach” that drove a wedge between himself and some of his staff.
Some workers were irked by Sokol “frequently invoking Mr. Buffett’s name to burnish his own image inside the company.”
He’d also once implied that “people with an illness or other personal problems were problematic” in the workplace, which reportedly turned a lot of people off. Sokol allegedly said those types of people had to be “pushed to the side.”
And he also once suddenly fired one of Berkshire Hathaway’s top dogs in the middle of a morning meeting and then locked him out of the building.
According to the Times,
[Sokol then] offered StevenHochhauser at least $1 million to sign a one-way disparagement clause — the company could disparage Mr. Hochhauser but he could not speak poorly of it, according to two former employees who would speak only on the condition of anonymity. Mr. Hochhauser declined, they said.
Those who had worked at Berkshire subsidiaryJohns Manville were reportedly “puzzled over why Mr. Buffett favoured him so much.”
To them, his shortcomings were obvious: Johns Manville profits tumbled when he took the reins.