CommCore Blog and News

Lessons From the Year’s Worst CEOs

Dartmouth College Business Professor Sydney Finkelstein’s 2013 annual rating of the worst CEOs is illuminating on several fronts.

Turnarounds of ailing companies are high-risk propositions for Chief Executives. Whether it’s making the wrong moves like J.C. Penney’s Ron Johnson, acting like nothing is wrong like Blackberry’s Thorsten Heins, or having no understanding ofhis new business sector like Sears’ Eddie Lampert, failure will be second-guessed by all internal and external stakeholders.

Steve Ballmer’s prior successes as the number 2 at Microsoft didn’t spare him from criticism for too many “me-too” Windows products that didn’t do well against more exciting and cutting-edge Apple and Google products.

At CommCore we know that no amount of communications skills can compensate for a CEO’s poor leadership and disappointing results. But we also know that a strong communicator can positively leverage his or her image as the face of the company or the brand:

  • Be visible and transparent with all internal and external stakeholders, whether the news is good or bad. Results are the ultimate bottom line, but credibility and trustworthiness are valuable currency.
  • Know your Achilles Heels, and fix them. Self-awareness of one’s leadership style is a crucial characteristic of a successful Chief Executive.
  • If you understand the news media, you can project leadership in difficult times and perhaps buy yourself more time to correct the situation.