Thursday, July 16, 2009


The last time I wrote my trademark ‘Lousy CEO’ dummies guide almost a year and a half back, I was strangely inundated with requests for a reprisal from my handful of‘ friends’. Sensing how my ‘loving ones’ were simply trying to stoke a similarity between my habits and those lousy CEO habits I’d written about (I have to admit, there does sometimes seem to be a remarkably frightening similarity...), I’d chosen to give their caring requests a sweet by. But as many bridges have already been blown on the river Kwai, I decided to finally present the second in the inimitable ‘Highly Lousy CEO©®’ series, focusing on the world’s worst CEOs and their equally (dis)regarded HR habits!

Lousy Habit #1: Believing old is the new gold!: Lousy CEOs passionately believe that the older they get, the better they become. Outstanding CEOs don’t, and realize that with age, they will lose their effectiveness! The Spencer Stuart CEO Survey report (November 2008, ‘Route to the Top’) shows how not only the median age of S&P 500 CEOs recorded in 2008 was lower than those recorded in the past six years, but also that in the past 28 years, the percentage of CEOs in the list who are either 49 years or below has increased by a smashing 29%! Compared to 53% of CEOs who were aged 60 years or above in 1980 in the S&P 100, today only 23% are.

Lousy Habit #2: Never say die...till you’re dead!: Lousy CEOs are infatuated with the hypothesis that they personally cannot ever be replaced. Outstanding CEOs commit themselves to succession planning. A remarkable 2009 Booz Allen report statistically proves how the count of planned successions (as a percentage of total successions) has increased over the past years. HBS wrote in 2006 (In Search of Excellence: In CEO Succession) how “merely announcing who your next CEO will be, can move (up) the market value of your company by 15% or more...”

Lousy Habit #3: Always recruit an outsider for a CEO!: Even if a lousy CEO buys the succession planning argument, he would almost always choose an external candidate over an internal candidate as his replacement. Outstanding CEOs always choose internal candidates. The 2009 report from Booz Allen titled Stability in the Storm proves – after evaluating 2,500 leading global companies – how even during times of downturn, 76% MNCs rely on internal CEO candidates to steer the company to safety. They state in another report (The Perils of Good Governance), “The outsider who comes in to whip a company into shape is most likely to get a thrashing.”

Lousy Habit #4: To hell with loyalty!: Lousy CEOs believe that if they don’t keep jumping jobs every few years, they’ll be perceived as being out of fashion. Outstanding CEOs almost never leave their companies during a lifetime. In a research I quote often, Forbes proves how a mind numbing 81% CEOs of America’s top 100 corporations have never changed their jobs (or have changed at best only one) throughout their lives! A monumentally similar 75% CEOs of leading non-US corporations have spent more than 35 years or more with the same company they lead.

Lousy Habit #5: Multi-tasking is for sissies; specialization is the future! The Institute for Innovation and Improvement profiled the legendary Bill Gates and reported that “Gates is the original multi-tasking man...” In fact, the ambidextrous Gates’ belief in multi-tasking is so supreme that “once, Gates hung a map of Africa in his garage, so he could have something to occupy his mind for the precious seconds spent turning on the engine of his Porsche.” Multi-taskers today are not only more educated than non-multi-taskers (78% more), but also are better paid (in general, a whopping 200% more) as they lead to more productivity (Dr.Gibbs in a Chicago Graduate School of Business co-authored paper). Lousy CEOs specialize; excellent CEOs multi-task!

With these words, I end this ‘lousy’ editorial! Man, these guys have started giving me too much varied work... Phew, I need a new focused job! But how the hell will they ever fi nd anybody who can do my job? Who cares... Hey, what’s this lousy slip doing on my table... and why’s it coloured a silly pink?...


1 comment:

  1. are soo right on the third "lousy" quality of Ceo's of hiring an outsider as there just gives rise to more tension and lack of satisfaction in the company.