They say, “Cream Rises to the Top”, and generally it does… rancid or not!
How can you determine if the CEO, leading the Company you have your life savings invested in, or who is the employer controlling your professional and financial future, or is the head of the organisation you’re counting on for your security… is adequate for the job?
Here’s some symptoms to look out for that are sure give-aways your CEO is NOT up to the job.
1. CEO gives employees, investors and stakeholders no idea of the Company’s Mission and Vision statements.
Particularly staff, but everyone who contributes to the business, should understand their “reason for getting out of bed in the morning”. Without direction, how can people apply initiative, work as a team, and contribute top “the cause”? The answer is they can’t, and frustration, boredom, and complacency prosper, becoming the “norm”. For customers, if you say a “the lowest cost air-travel possible, their expectations come in ‘line’ and less customer dissatisfaction & complaints follow, with less costs, less staff pressure, … etc. (you get the picture.)
When CEO’s arrogantly boast profits inherited or experienced due to incidental or fragile circumstances (usually circumstantial) you want to watch out for short term profits that don’t dissipate faster than they came.
2. The CEO doesn’t understand the Hierarchies of Marketing.
My favourite quote for this year is borrowed from David Packard, of Hewlett-Packard fame, who said, “marketing is too important to be left to the marketing people”. He was expressing an understanding of STRATEGIC MARKETING, in a world where OPERATIONAL marketing people are the functional folk who manage our daily marketing activities.
If your CEO doesn’t intimately understand the Hierarchies of Marketing, he’ll be loading his team with operational people delivering clever tactics, but in the absence of a single holistic strategy. Business will be reactive not active, budgets will be way out, production shortfalls and overruns, desperate discounting and high pressure sales drives… pressure, pressure, pressure, cost, cost, cost… while R&D will be minimised, market research will be nominal or “postponed till next financial period, and so on.
In the words so Sun Tzu, “Strategy without tactics is the slowest route to victory. Tactics without strategy is the noise before defeat.”
3. The CEO doesn’t Thoroughly Understand that Ethical Options are a Huge Business Opportunity and Not the Problem
Social media, the internet and globalisation, and all the communication ramifications have changed the game… It is often said, “Those that don’t observe the mistakes of history are bound to repeat them” and history has proven – so often – that when the “masses” discover contempt from the “elite”, heads role!
There is no reason a corporation can prosper and be immortal… companies don’t fail, its leaders who fail to run them properly who fail.
People want ethics and need satisfaction… it is up to C-level executives to deliver and they will secure customer loyalty. What’s incredible is that innovation using creates blue-ocean opportunities, and companies that deliver always prosper even more so. Imagine if tobacco companies had self-controlled their greed and capitalised on customer goodwill and brand equity? Marlboro was the 7th most popular brand in the world – it COULD have spawned industries! Imagine if building industry had introduced an innovation to replace its asbestos voluntarily at any of the times points since 1918 when it was discovered to be dangerous. Ethical leadership could have created HUGE opportunity in every time this was ratified, in 1933, 1942, 1943, 1947, 1949, 1953, 1955, 1960 and 1964. Ethical leadership would have led to R&D with something better/safer/ newer. They could have “upsold” and avoided the legacy of corporate criminality. Imagine if petrol companies hadn’t bought up and buried alternative energy patents decades ago when they wanted to protect their businesses… So many companies might still exist if their CEO’s had vision through an ethical high-road expressed in Corporate Values.
4. The CEO Takes Bonuses and High Salary Regardless of Company Performance
Any CEO who puts personal gain before their Company can’t be trusted to lead. If they don’t have “skin in the game”, a sense of balance, dedication to employees, customers and shareholders before themselves, a higher purpose than personal wealth, beware.
4. The CEO Doesn’t Intimately Understand the Importance of Balancing all the Elements of the Marketing Mix.
If your CEO perceives the word, ”Marketing”, to mean sales, selling, promotion, advertising, getting people to buy stuff, marketing communications , and doesn’t recognise the 8 “P’s” of Marketing… you’re doomed.
My firm surveyed every Australian IPO over 3 years during the 2000’s and found almost everyone, WITHOUT a Marketing qualification of the Board, experienced a less than issue price per share. EVERY company with Boards inclusive of a marketing qualified board member, had a higher than issue-price market value per share. Not one failure/collapse, was experienced by tertiary qualified marketing representation on the Board.
Remember, businesses don’t fail. Brands don’t fail. Products don’t fail… It is Managers, leaders, decision-makers who make wrong decisions who cause failure.