From where I'm sitting, the "CEO brand" definitely isn't what it used to be. And you know, it makes me sad to think that millions of Americans spend their lives climbing the corporate ladder when, at the very top of that metaphor for success in the business world sits a vile image of Michael Douglas as Gordon Gekko in the movie Wallstreet.
But, you know what they say, perception is reality. And, justified or not, there are plenty of reasons for the chief executive's perceived fall from grace, not least of which are:
- The financial crisis and the state of the economy
- All the dumb bank and auto bailouts
- The sad unemployment picture
- Billions in bonus payouts at AIG, Goldman Sachs, et al
- The Obama administration's vitriolic disdain for corporate America
Now, I can link to dozens of posts where I'm tough on executives that screw up, misbehave, commit fraud, or act like greedy gluttonous pigs. But I also caution against letting a few dysfunctional psychopaths taint the entire asylum. So I do, at times, vigorously defend the corporate CEO.
But the truth is that, well, there were times in my career when I wouldn't have felt the slightest bit guilty to play Whac-A-Mole with my CEO's head. So, inspired by those real-life experiences from an executive insider, here are 5 Reasons to Hate Your CEO:
- Your CEO may prefer to play it safe by playing Julius Caesar - salivating while his gladiator execs beat each other to a pulp over a difference in strategy - instead of doing his job, making an executive decision, and having to deal with a pissed off direct report.
- Your CEO will cut a new-hire a sweat deal - better than yours - even though you're at the same level and you worked your tail off growing the company while the new guy shows up right before the IPO. You'll find all this out when the S-1 prospectus comes out because your boss doesn't have the cajones to tell you himself.
- When your CEO is stressed-out and anxiety-ridden and becomes an abusive, lunatic control freak because that's how he "deals with it," you have two choices: suck it up and take it or quit and leave everything you've worked for on the table. If it happens in reverse, guess what? You're fired!
- Your CEO will absolutely throw you and anyone else he has to under the bus to ensure he's "taken care of" in an acquisition. You see, the terms of your employment agreement are negotiable if the acquiring company wants them to be, but the CEO gets to protect his deal because, well, he's the one doing the negotiating, not you.
- Whatever the major disaster is that ends up with you looking bad to the board, the CEO will rarely go to bat for you to set the record straight if the board happens to be in love with the butt-kissing, sugar-coating jerk who actually screwed up and stabbed you in the back to cover it up.
Image of Tony Hayward, courtesy BP, other images CC 2.0 via Flickr