Thursday, October 31, 2013

The Effective CEO Communicator

While the job of a chief executive officer (CEO) is multi-faceted, he or she tends to be judged from the self-interest of each key stakeholder group.  Investors judge a CEO based on financial performance. Employees judge their boss on managerial style or perhaps whether and how often they see raises and bonuses.  The public and the media may judge a CEO on the public persona created through community involvement or even celebrity status.

That’s not to say CEOs are loved and admired everywhere they go, and more than a few CEOs will be the first to tell you this.  Some recent studies have suggested that some CEOs suffer from narcissistic personality or other psychological disorders. 

Forbes magazine recently did an online feature called America's Top 20 Favorite Bosses.  To be sure, Forbes is more likely to judge a CEO based on business results, but according to the feature, the top picks were based on ratings from employees. 

Mark Zuckerberg, CEO of Facebook topped the list with an approval rating from his employees of 99 percent.  On face value with stories like this, it’s quite common to assume Mr. Zuckerberg’s management style deserves all the credit, but the company’s initial public offering in 2012 and the financial windfall that accompanied it may have had something to do with employee satisfaction with leadership.

Other companies' employees that rated their CEOs highly were SAPMcKinsey & Company, Ernst & Young, and Northwestern Mutual to round out the top five.

But what does it take to be an effective CEO communicator?

In my experience, CEOs who connect with all of their major constituencies take it beyond simply the self-interest of the stakeholder.  Investors, for example, want a  CEO to be more than one who delivers financial results, but also who understands everything from product development and branding, to creating a vision that the work force can follow. 

Employees want a CEO whose vision provides a future for them and their families, a workplace that makes them want to come to work, and compensation that enables them to achieve their personal dreams.

Others, such as customers, vendors and the larger community, want a CEO who has a handle on corporate social responsibility, cost management, competitive pricing and much more.

And yet, while all of this is important, it can mean nothing if the CEO can’t communicate on these levels so effectively that targeted stakeholders find a connection with the organization.

That is what it takes to be an effective CEO communicator and why it’s so rare to find a CEO that can do all of this and do it well.
Fred Smith, the founder and longtime CEO of FedEx is one I had the opportunity to see in action.  He has proven to be a model for CEO communication.  Here is a 9-minute interview with him on his company, its evolution and its future.

No comments:

Post a Comment