The headline was America’s Invisible Bosses and naturally I was curious. The research by APPrise Mobile found that nearly one quarter (23%) of Americans who work in companies with over 500 employees (midsized) were not sure whether they could name their CEO. This was more common among employees under 24 years old (not a surprise). I guess what did surprise me was this was not what I would call a case for “invisible bosses.” As I see this, the research says that nearly 3 in 4 employed Americans (77%) know their CEO’s name. That’s actually a pretty high number and certainly tips more on the “visible” side of the scale for me. CEOs are not as nameless as one might suspect.
APPrise included a great question in the survey. They asked whether employees could identify their CEO from a lineup. That made me laugh. Just imagine a line up Continue reading "Nameless faceless CEOs"
You ought to read this article on what makes some CEOs successful and others not. There are lots of interesting things to learn from their 10 year old research study called the CEO Genome Project. The researchers were able to identify what makes a high performing CEO relative to a less successful one from a wide swath of business leaders. They examined 17,000 C-suite leaders including 2,000 CEOs in all major industry sectors and sizes. The authors are at ghSmart and partnered with economists at the University of Chicago and Copenhagen Business School along with analysts at SAS Inc. Here are some of the findings that stood out for me:
Boards like to hire extrovert CEOs but introvert CEOs tend to be better performers.
Here are three recent pieces reflecting on CEO activism since the president’s executive order on immigration. One I wrote for HBR and the other two are full of compelling arguments about whether CEOs should speak up or not, should be on the president’s advisory council or not. And ultimately, the cost of CEOs remaining silent or neutral. I can safely predict that this new surge in CEO activism will continue.
Washington Post: https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/on-leadership/wp/2017/02/17/the-cost-of-silence-why-more-ceos-are-speaking-out-in-the-trump-era/?utm_term=.cd3c87afba11&wpisrc=nl_heads-draw6&wpmm=1
New York Times: https://www.nytimes.com/2017/02/16/business/trump-ceo-invitations.html?_r=0
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Two things to add today.
The first is a description in an article I read in a McKinsey article about Nokia’s CEO. I thought it had heart. The CEO said that they had seven golden rules that they live by. “The first rule is always assume the best of intentions from others. A simple thing, but if you can follow that, it will change how you behave in a lot of situations. The final one is that any meeting where we don’t laugh out loud is a dismal failure. That’s important, especially when you are making decisions that are emotionally hard. You can feel so bad, and everything is doom and gloom. But that’s when you need to work extra hard to get people to laugh. It helps you find the balance between being the optimist and the paranoid again. Otherwise, you just fall into the trap of being paranoid. Continue reading "Reputation Tidbits"
Here we are at a most pivotal point in America’s history. Donald Trump, perhaps one of the most surprising people to have ever been elected President of the United States, will soon be inaugurated.
For better or worse, the reputation of this nation hangs in the balance. Will America’s reputation be burnished or burned? Hard to say just yet. But one thing is abundantly clear. President Trump is likely to be a sharply different type of President than we are used to. His words and deeds will undoubtedly impact us not just during the next few years, but for years to come. As a businessman, and as someone who has appointed numerous other business people to hold significant posts in his administration, his words and deeds will also impact the reputation of American business and business leaders.
I must confess that as I pull together my reputation prognostications for 2017, Continue reading "Reputation Trends for 2017"
Just want to make sure that I share a new web series from Starbucks called Upstanders. Fast Companywrote about it as well as lots of other media because it is inspiring journalism that demonstrates that people all across America are taking action and helping to wipe out incivility. It is a series of storytelling about people we see living their lives everyday who are doing good and making a difference.
If you have read my blog, you know that I’m keenly interested in Civility in America. At Weber Shandwick, we’ve been conducting research on this audacious topic since 2010 and I have been patiently waiting for companies or someone to do something about this coarsening of discourse. Just this weekend, I was reviewing some notes for an interview on Monday on our study and how most Americans expect incivility to worsen in the next few years. In the course Continue reading "Standing By"
Fall is here, or at least the end of summer. I have to get back into posting on my blog. So here I am on a sunny Sunday before I dive into some work before Monday morning arrives.
I wanted to post about this fantastic interview I came across in the Washington Post in August. It is an interview with Apple CEO Tim Cook and it is very in-depth. There were so many good quotes in it that I am reeling after reading it for the second time. The occasion of the interview was Apple selling its billionth iPhone. Billionth! And the timing coincided with the five year anniversary of Tim Cook taking over the reins from Steve Jobs.
Several themes that I have been watching over the years surface in this interview and I was excited to hear his point of view – the media scrutiny, the role of Continue reading "Tim Cook on being CEO"
An interesting new study recently surfaced showing how major corporations are under pressure to weigh in on social issues —Taking a Stand: How Corporations Speak Out on Social Issues, from the Public Affairs Council. Nearly 100 companies across several sectors found that in the past three years, 6 in 10 experienced rising stakeholder pressure to speak up and out on social issues such as discrimination, sustainability, education and human rights. Interestingly, nearly three quarters said they expect this demand to speak up on societal issues to increase over the next few years (14% significantly). “Many of these social issues are now viewed as business issues,” said Public Affairs Council President Doug Pinkham. “They affect a company’s ability to attract and retain talent and meet the expectations of customers. Other areas of involvement also demonstrate the belief that it’s possible for a firm to be financially successful while protecting
To my surprise, CEO Activism has not yet made itself into Wikipedia. The usual test of an emerging trend or shift is when it finds itself in the free online encyclopedia. Since I have spent a good part of my weekend working on a presentation on the topic for later this week, I figured I’d find it there. Especially because there has been a fair amount of media coverage on these acts of courage from CEOs who have spoken out on some of the most controversial issues of the day. The non-entry of CEO activism in this go-to source is a good reminder, however, that CEO activism is still in its infancy. We are only at the learning-as-we-go stage.
So far, we have seen more CEOs speak out against anti-LGBT laws than any other topic. But we are beginning to see a few CEOs finding their public voice when it comes to race relations. As one article I read Continue reading "CEO activism conspicuously absent"
I just read thisstatementfrom the CEO of the Financial Times and I said to myself, oh so true. “Corporate events are at growing at double-digit rates. It’s interesting because I think it’s the flip side of the whole digital evolution: Business people like to network. They like that physical engagement.”
The number of conferences seems to grow by the day. And clearly the reason is exactly as Ken Doctor says….face to face is still critical — and always will be — to getting business done. We have a whole unit dedicated to business conferences because they have grown exponentially and companies need expertise on which invitations to accept. External engagement and networking is key to advancing the business and getting heard. CEO reputations can be given an assist by speaking at the right venues, before the right audiences and with the right peers.
We just released new research with KRC Research on CEO activism and I want to share some of the findings here. I also wrote a piece in Harvard Business Review that you might find interesting.
As a long-time observer of CEO trends, we wanted to get a good read on this new dynamic and its impact on reputation. To be sure, CEO activism has at times been very effective. In the past year or so, a number of CEOs have spoken out about social and environmental issues such as climate change, income fairness, same-sex marriage, immigration, gun control and discrimination – all issues that are not necessarily tied to the bottom line. Yet, we also learned that there are some risks that should be carefully considered. Here are the key findings.
Advice from the newly named president of the Harlem Globetrotters on the first 100 days. The writer of the article sums up the new president’s counsel saying that leaders must pivot forward to the next decade by focusing on “to be” goals and “to do” goals. Smith is saying: “The first asks: “What kind of organization do we want to be?” The second focuses on: “What do we do to deliver results?” Fairly simple and eminently useful.
Smith’s wise advice, however, got me thinking about the use of the word “pivot.” When did this word arrive on the scene and when will it go away? I actually started hearing it about three years ago and assumed it was a political term being adapted for corporate communications. I often heard it in conversations about getting a CEO or company to change the conversation. I try not to use “pivot” because it is a subtle Continue reading "First 100 Days Advice from the world of Sports"
In my last post, I wrote about a recent McKinsey Quarterly report on new CEOs which had valuable information. The one thing I left out and saved for a follow up post was this finding which showed up in the last few sentences. The authors reported that “On average, an inflection point arrives during year three of a CEO’s tenure. At that point, a CEO whose company is underperforming is roughly twice as likely to depart as the CEO of an outperforming one—by far the highest level at any time in a chief executive’s tenure.” I guess you might call it the 3 Year Itch.
This finding matches with some research I had done years ago on CEO tenures. By 18 to 24 months, you either have the board and employees’ support or not. It then takes a year or so for any action to happen on that level of success Continue reading "The CEO Three Year Itch"
A report from McKinsey Quarterly on New CEOs has some very valuable information. Looking at what 600 CEOs and the strategic moves they made in their first two years, the researchers found that there were more similarities than expected. They looked at new CEOs from S&P companies who left between 2004 and 2014.
Their overall conclusion was that most CEOs focus early on a few bold moves and work to bring an outsider perspective to the company’s challenges, regardless of whether they are an insider or outsider CEO. To make it a fairer comparison, they looked to see how the companies did prior to the new CEO’s arrival — was it a well-performing company, a poor-performing company or a fairly well-balanced company in stable shape? They found no real differences between CEOs in different performing companies in the kinds of strategic moves that the CEOs made.
The most common strategic move among new CEOs Continue reading "New CEOs — Be Bold"
How much fun is this! An animated summer reading list from Bill Gates. A smart way to communicate without the formality and pomposity that goes with most chief executives. A newer way of storytelling from the top. Clearly, Gates is just sharing with us his favorite books for the summer and does not need to further building his reputation. He has enough good will already. But it makes him and all the initiatives at the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation appear even more grounded and ahead of the curve because of his focus on deep thought and learning.
Short, snappy and makes you want to read each book. Clearly, no romance novels. It is entertaining (love the robot), accessible and it feels like he is sitting right next to you having a conversation. And what could be more important than reading a book, an activity we have little time for these days. Continue reading "Summer Reading from Gates"
How is it that trends have a way of slowing down and raising questions as to whether the pendulum might just swing back in the opposite direction? In the ongoing survey by strategy& (originally Booz & Co.) on CEO turnover, the newest analysis found that despite a long-term preference for insider CEOs as successors vs. outsider CEOs (77% vs. 23%), an interesting shift is taking place. As they cite:
Outsiders accounted for 22% of all CEOs brought in via a planned succession between 2012-2015, up from 14% in 2004-2007
Almost three-quarters of all outsider CEOs were brought in during planned successions during that same period, up from 43% in 2004-2007
I have followed CEO turnover for what seems like forever and am possibly one of the earliest trackers of CEO turnover. I began tracking CEO succession on ceogo.com back in the early 2000s. Google has no memory of the website I Continue reading "Outsider CEOs back in favor?"
Received this in my inbox this morning. Considering the bad press that I’ve read over the past year about J.Crew and the quality of its products, this is one way to entice people to give the clothier another look. I thought it was effective. The CEO — everyone knows by the name Mickey — is being accountable and communicating from a position of strength, hopefully. He also offers up his email if there is something not working for his customers. I’d be curious how many people actually take him up on giving him a piece of their mind or an idea. All I can say is that it would be terrible not to have J.Crew around. So I am rooting for a turnaround.
Since a few people sent this to me, I consider that means it is being noticed and spread. We will see how the season goes.
The post Reputation Continue reading "Reputation recovery at J.Crew"
A new study was just released about what Americans want from CEOs who are using social media. The survey from G&S Business Communications and Harris Interactive found that the average person wants CEOs to talk about business and not about their personal lives. They found that Americans want business leaders on social media to talk about their company’s vision (36%), their company’s products and services (35%), their company’s customer service issues and experiences (32%) and their employee culture (25%). In comparison, less than 20% want to hear from social CEOs when it comes to career advice or personal stories. This meshes with our finding back in 2010 when we first dived into social CEOs and found that Fortune 500 CEOs mostly shared information about their companies and industry, discussed company partnerships and shared the company’s mission and history when they were online. At the time, they were less apt to discuss personal news or Continue reading "What we want from Social CEOs"
The world has a never-ending interest in social CEOs. Or I should say CEOs in general. But when it comes to CEOs using social media, it’s all the time. In the past few weeks, I’ve spoken to several journalists about the opportunities and challenges facing CEOs who use social media. Here is one that I meant to write about that appeared in the San Francisco Chronicle. The article talks about how CEOs are turning to social media instead of their corporate web sites. To back this up, the article quotes a professor of digital social media at USC’s Annenberg School, “People are much less likely to go seek a corporate website. They expect the news to show up in their social media feed. People are now just assuming (relevant information) will come to them. If it doesn’t, it probably wasn’t worth listening to anyway.” So the place to be heard is social Continue reading "Social CEOs Endlessly Fascinating"
A few good articles that I have been saving to write about and have not had the chance. So here they are:
Lessons from Julius Caesar about how not to run a company well. This article appeared in the WSJ and it chronicles what leaders can learn from the Roman dictator. A successful conqueror for sure but a narcissist to his dying breath. The author describes what he calls The Caesar Syndrome: “A bold, talented, aggressive leader conquers an organization and then thinks the heavy lifting is over. But a leader’s work isn’t done when he becomes CEO—it has just begun. The goals: to listen, empower, collaborate and compromise, all for the good of the organization and not himself.” Being selected as CEO and building a positive reputation are just the start of the journey. Instead of Caesar’s victory speech to the Senate, “I came, I saw, I conquered,” the message