Monday, May 14, 2007

Replacing a Popular CEO 

This kind of situation is a PR challenge. The new CEO is automatically judged against the departed leader. Everyone is waiting for change and the bias is against it.

Jet Blue made a smart move by promoting someone from within who is a known quantity. Bringing a CEO in from the outside in situations like this sets employees on edge. The new leader has to work overtime to gain acceptance before making any changes. When there is pressure to do things differently, it makes the process all the more difficult. In the case of Jet Blue, there is an apparent need for a different mode of operations as the carrier matures and becomes like competitors it is seeking to displace.

Smart CEOs, even ones appointed from within, will take the first few weeks to introduce themselves to all levels of employees so the employees can have a sense of who they are dealing with. The CEO is no longer a cipher but real flesh and blood who listens and is personable. Command-and-control CEOs haven't done well in recent years and the feeling now with diminished authority in relation to boards of directors is they aren't the kind of leader needed at the top of US corporations. It's too early to tell, but the PR challenges will remain no matter what style a CEO adopts.

The CEO is real flesh and blood is good.

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