IT Employment

Can a CEO's terrible people skills affect company success?

In the recent past, a number of CEOs have made headlines by being let go from their jobs due to atrocious people handling skills. How does that lack of skills translate to the bottom line?

What do these people have in common?

  • Julie Roehm
  • Robert Nardelli
  • Steve Heyer
  • Harry Stonecipher

They were all C-level executives at high-profile companies who lost their jobs due to interpersonal incompetence (aka "no people skills").

(Julie Roehm was fired from Wal-Mart; Robert Nardelli was forced out of Home Depot; Steve Heyer was let go from Coca-Cola; and Harry Stonecipher lost his job at Boeing.)

In his Forbes blog last week, Dale Buss quotes Bob Eichinger, CEO of Lominger International, as saying such people are "promoted into their jobs for their business smarts, and they fail because of weaknesses in their people smarts."

Well, no kidding.

As I think we've all learned from Donald Trump, many highly successful people rise to the top because they have some kind of genius for business. And many stay at the top in spite of a pronounced lack of interpersonal skills. As long as they're making money, the stakeholders can overlook the trickle-down problems that affect the worker bees.

Until, that is, those trickle-down problems become so severe that they start to affect profits.

I shudder to think how bad things have to get for shareholders to tie in an executive's interpersonal skills with a shrinking profit margin, but I'm encouraged by the fact that sometimes the connection is indeed recognized.

So let's dish. Have you ever been a witness to someone's downfall due to atrocious people skills? Or maybe you, yourself, were sent on your way because of an Attila-like demeanor. Share your story.

About

Toni Bowers is Managing Editor of TechRepublic and is the award-winning blogger of the Career Management blog. She has edited newsletters, books, and web sites pertaining to software, IT career, and IT management issues.

67 comments
scronson
scronson

Stop your bias against those with disabilities and a high IQ from getting up there since they are bright, creative but may lack social skills. Without them many inventions and creativity in this country would have never existed. That is what is in many articles, just google it. Any way those with Aspergers have trouble reading others subtle meanings. But they usually desire more than anything to be social beings and fit in. Because they have a blockage in use of the brain for social matter does not make them a bad person but a misunderstood person. They should not cause their gried and lack in that area to hurt others of course but help them. Instead of condoning them, help them to be the best than can be. Anything else is ignorant and dumb. Those afflicted with aspergers try harder than most to fit in and strive for perfection often. So they should be leaders for many who are slackers! They need help from others to model social skills behaviors and because of that sometimes they come out ahead of many because they can pick and choose who should be their ideal model to emulate. Like me I am starting up an online business because I care alot about issues and things and its impact on others. Even it does not succeed at least I Tried! Very few people if ANY are perfect just some have more communication channels than others. And often those with some other skills are very bad role models and like Madoff influence others to billions of dollars of scams. Alcoholics even become executives till their drinking problem crashes them or they strive to never drink again. Yes many say Bill Gates has Aspergers and gee he is one of the richest persons in the entire world! So he did someting right! And then his parents helped him and his spouse to generate help to others with his billions of dollars. Gee a little better than Madoff? Jack Welch is probably the best known well-rounded probably CEO's and he deserves that. But very few are like him. My spouse lost a family type warm leaders of a fortune 500 company and instead they hired a super analytical nitpicking Leader. They are some of the richest in their state and they like what he is doing. He probably has Aspergers. He ticks of others much of the time with his ideals, changes in decisions and more but he still is there perfecting the company, streamlining it and making it more profitable to boot! What more can you ask of one person. He may not have aspergers but I would gues more than 50/50 chance he does. So what he is doing a good job and very rich social people like what he is DOING.

BALTHOR
BALTHOR

He says that is the only way that he knows how to do it.And then?Eat the elephant boiled in whale blubber.

magupta26
magupta26

of course ...People management do play a vital role.

hxa
hxa

Daniel Goleman said it in his book "working with emotional intelligence" that EI "Emotion Intelligence" is what makes a star performer not IQ. The degree or skills are just the threshold to have the job but to be a star you must have superb people skills. People are being evaluated in their ???people-skills??? without realizing that.

NLee
NLee

Aurora Health Care in Wisconsin...habitually promotes people with longevity into positions of authority and sticks with them come hell or high water. Their health care reputation is starting to deteriorate, their "all about people" reputation is already gone throughout most communities. It's like the emperor's new clothes syndrome. (They get rid of the people who tell the truth...)

SObaldrick
SObaldrick

.. for having an affair with a secretary. He introduced the no sex with colleagues rule into the company and was the one of the first to suffer its consequences. I was there at the time .. but only for work. Les.

BALTHOR
BALTHOR

Coca-Cola is pretty much turn the machine on and watch it run---

alex.a
alex.a

I understand that Nardelli was forced out of Home Depo because he refused to accept a token reduction in his $3 million annual bonus. On the way out the door he negotiated a multi-million dollar retirement package for himself. I'd give all the tea in China to be forced to leave a company under such circumstances.

homesjc
homesjc

Being treated as mushrooms and fed BS is a not good existence. "Those without a vision perish" In my last job, where the CEO could not/would not effectively communicate with his staff including skilled scientists - so destroyed moral and productivity which contributed hugely to the failure of the company. JohnH

Paul W. Homer
Paul W. Homer

Yes, it makes a big difference. It is not just the CEO though, the culture of most companies comes directly from the executive team. It is more obvious in a small company, but it holds true for any organization. A crappy boss passes down the misery to the staff, and they cease to be effective. They pass it downwards themselves. There might be islands of better morale, usually sheltered by some strong manager, but generally it decays. Will a miserable company fail in the market place? Sometimes, but not always. If they are good at what they do and there is no real competition, then people will put up with their attitude. Sometimes they succeed in spite of their leaders :-) Paul. http://theprogrammersparadox.blogspot.com

juan
juan

To state simply if the company is private there is pretty much you nothing you can do, except leave. The more successful "according to how much money they generate" CEOs are usually the ones most driven with blinders on. Nothing gets in the way of their "vision" and there is always someone else to blame if things don't go as planned. The fault cannot lie with the person staring them in the mirror. Heaven forbid if the emperor has no clothes.

chas_2
chas_2

I personally haven't witnessed upper management's bad people skills hurting a company to the point such management was fired, but it stands to reason. A poor upper-level manager sets the tone for the organization. Only a maverick type underling would counter such a tone with his/her own tone, although this sometimes does happen, I'm sure. A negative tone puts workers on the defensive, in which case they're less likely to share information with other workers to protect their own jobs or burnish their credentials. Also, if such workers interact with the general public and their tone is anxious or upset, customers can sense that, and their experience with the company is hurt. Sometimes an upper-level manager's poor people skills can be quarantined from the rest of company, but I can't see how this could be done for all companies across all industries. There are some industries in which people skills must be critical - so-called "relationship" industries such as, for example, the banking investment industry. Can you imagine what kind of bad people skills have contributed to the fall of Bear Stearns? Not enough American companies have learned that the sort of things that make companies run well are the basics - respect for every single one of your employees, fair pay (that is, sharing the profits), safe and reasonable working conditions (no 70-plus hour work weeks to clean up an upper-level manager's poor judgment). Whole Foods Market has been voted one of Fortune Magazine's best places to work - again. This is, like, their fifth year in a row. Their CEO's get it.

Sonny Boy
Sonny Boy

I totally believe that as a CEO or anyone in a position of authority can only be as successful as the people beneath them. People smarts are an essential part of any successful career. I have a new boss who is a complete jackass. He is single handedly destroying the enrgy of the group. Of all the managers I'm getting it the worst since we're in the same city. It's only a matter of time before we become not as successful as we have been in the past.

brianhemstreet
brianhemstreet

I don't have experience working directly with CEOs, but I have seen what happens when a manager doesn't have people skills--low morale, excessive sick-time, low productivity, gossip, sniping, and backstabbing. I worked for a manager years ago who regularly sent abusive emails and phone messages, while smiling to your face. In the years since I left the company, nothing has changed there, and this particular department, due to the lack of positive change and atmosphere, is in danger of being cut.

nschwantes
nschwantes

I've had some experiences in 2 different companies, both family owned and run. The first was a great company until the 5th generation took over. The previous generations were more "people are the best asset" the company has. The latest CEO was more "technology" oriented, but didn't take any advice that existing employees made. Case in point: CFO died unexpectedly and a search was on for a replacement. The person the CEO chose was number 4 or 5 on the list of the accounting staff's rating of the candidates. 3 years later, the company get sold and the first person out the door was the CFO! The other CEO was a real "demon". You could "feel" the tension in the air when he was in the building. He had a very short fuse and fired anyone, on the spot, on a whim. Middle management got to the point where no decisions were made because he would make changes as he felt. Fortunately, the company was purchased before he could totally run it into the ground.

reisen55
reisen55

One large insurance company I worked for in Manhattan (there are only three there, you can find which one) had a CEO come in from that stellar breeding ground of CEOs, the McKinsey Group. Gerstner, at IBM, had years of real world experience before taking over Big Blue so his McKinsey DNA was diluted somewhat. But this fellow is a 100% consultant through and through, and uses horrible business speak (distinctive client value, best of breed, leveraging assets to produce greater client driven success ... you know = garbage). You cannot understand one word of what he says in 20 words. Morale is driven through the floor because he senses people as carbon units. Only employees who have DIRECT AND DISTINCTIVE CLIENT CONTACT are secure in their jobs. He is outsourcing everything else he possibly can. Horrid.

spikevoltage
spikevoltage

These people could only become "leaders" at big companies where politics plays more of a role in promotion than talent. In smaller companies, owners quickly realize that poor people skills are very, very costly - and they get rid of the jerks. In 20 years of strategic planning, I've never seen a successful small company with jerks in C-level positions (at least...not for long...).

ksady
ksady

I'd also like to say that CEOs like Randall Stephenson of AT&T and former CEO good old Bill Gates firmly believe Americans are just too stupid to hire for their companies. Now that's people skills for ya. CEOs that go to the ends of the earth to hire their people find they cost about 10% of Americans.

parthiparaj
parthiparaj

CEO's attitude should determine the company. It should reflect in each of their actions. If this is the case, its a kind of people management as well. They should promote great ideas which should be innovative for the business, and also should make their people think. If they are great business makers they are good at people handling as well. Its worse than lame to comment that CEOs,who were great at busineess are bad in people handling.

timothy.retford
timothy.retford

What I often can't understand is how people get promoted to leadership positions with behaviour that fails to inspire followership. The flaw is grounded in the fact that all too often, companies sacrifice the longer term considerations of human capital and morale for the shorter term ones of profit, even if in the long run, profit will suffer as a result. Case in point: how often would management survey a candidate's direct reports or peers when considering him/her for a promotion? Only companies that recognize the competitive advantage of having a motivated workforce and thereby consciously make the effort to prioritize such considerations alongside those of business performance would ever consider such a policy.

tuomo
tuomo

Definitely yes but but the words "people skill" would need a small clarification. The CEO can be friendly but not skilled to select other people or the CEO can be very cold but excellent selecting people who work with him/her and are perfect for the rest of the company. I have seen both and and any(?)combinations, I also know a couple who are both very friendly, open and can select very good people to work in company and, just because they are CEO's, they fire you in a second if they think you are not any benefit for their goals. So - the question is not really so simple.

ginkep
ginkep

Donald Trump - the man whom we can take as a case dealing with peolple?! Ridiculous!

jeremyl
jeremyl

At my last company we went through two CEOs. I'd say both were 'people persons' but the first one was an engineer by nature and the second who took over was a salesman by nature. The salesman, naturally, ended up doing a better job in terms of numbers. But both guys are great guys but the board of directors was far more interested in numbers. I think there weren't any 'interpsonal/people skill' issues there though, as pretty much everyone got along without any major politics or miscommunication. That company did get sold to a larger company, but I guess that's not uncommon in the software industry where there are big fish, little fish, and also sharks :)

dburr
dburr

Lets not limit this to just the CEO, but extgend this to all senior executives especially those in direct control of day-to-day operations (e.g. President, COO). The "human capital" of a company is just that, no company can rise above the quality of its employees. If those at the top have a culture of disregard for the employees, vendors, partners, etc., that culture is infectous and will soon spread. The real problem occurs when those that can not, and will not tolerate the behavior, pack up an leave. This leaves a company full of problematic personalities, which over time will self-destruct.

deepak.chowdary
deepak.chowdary

History speaks that people become CEO and next year he will be the bad man for the company if he fails or hero if he succeeds.who appoints these CEO's, I think its more like who are you selecting for .If you want somebody for temperory goals,how long actually a business leader is planned for.Even the company drowns these people get their pay offs and the cut offs for the lower end employees and the share holders.Then declaring the loss,did any company discusses with the lower end people before declaring loss.I think its the board room that takes more part in the discusions and this should be changed.there might be somebody out there who is always having alternative and you never meet them.The decision making people always happy to start a new venture and closing the old one beause they first look into fillign their pockets,then finding ways to run away thorugh the corporate law loop holes.This should change or else business should start trusting on the small business rather the larger corporate companies.

santeewelding
santeewelding

Strikes me as a demeanor of another kind. Did you dredge this up while researching your own condition? According to the record, it's the only post you have ever made. I wish you Godspeed in your effort.

ksady
ksady

We had a great company I was there for 6 years. Ran like a clock with 10,000 ITS employees in a Project Management Organization format. Then we were aquired by Coventry. They let all the good people go in a matter of 6 months. Anyone who said anything remotely resembling the truth was let go the smart ones jumped ship before that. I wouldn't want their Health Insurance plan if it was the last one available on the market.

sleepin'dawg
sleepin'dawg

Like it or not, there is a sell-by-date on the corporate life expectancy of [i][b]each and EVERY[/i][/b] CEO. For instance, there is the entrepreneurial type, who will start a company, slave day and night to make it grow and to hell with anything or anyone who gets in the way of that growth. Fools are not suffered gladly. Entrepreneurs seldom, if ever, make good managers or CEOs. Entrepreneurs, by nature, are gamblers and they will gamble anything and everything for success. God help anyone who gets in their way. It's going to be, has to be, their way or the highway. However, the entrepreneurial type will eventually reach a point when he becomes exasperated with day-to-day management and operations and commence to become an encumberance, rather than an asset, to the stability of the company. Hopefully, he will recognize his limitations regarding interpersonal relationships and will either promote from within or bring in someone, to handle the more mundane tasks of daily operations. He will thus be free to move on to conquor other fields of endeavour. He may retain a financial interest in his company or completely divorce himself by selling out his interest. The replacement CEO will need to retrench for stability and growth and will create the corporate ambiance which will determine the future profitability and level of employee job satisfaction. Regardless of the type, at no time can the CEO take his eye off the bottom line if he wishes to insure corporate survival. There will be a host of problems aside from production; political and labour to name just a few. Problems arise when a company achieves a certain level wherein corporate ethos turns towards the financial and political, rather than the operations and their personnel. This usually doesn't happen until the third or fourth change in CEO, especially if the latter is an outsider who has been brought in with a view to maximize profits and dividends; the company will commence to struggle and the dissatisfaction of low and medium level personnel will set in. Turnovers will accelerate and an overall malaise will set in. This isn't necessarily irreversable but if permitted to continue unchecked, the company will either be absorbed into another or fold. Bean counters, left to their own devices, unchecked, can destroy a company The successful CEO must be constantly adaptive to change; a sort of juggling act to keep all the balls of product development, operations(production), financial, labour, investor relations and politics, in the air. The one constant for any CEO is: [i][b] Times and things change and he either adapts or dies.[/i][/b] The successful CEO must recognize his limitations in his ability to adapt and/or his continuing desire to adapt. He must never forget [b]"The Peter Principal"[/b] people rise to their level of incompetance. It's extremely difficult for a CEO, nevermind any individual, to admit, never mind recognize, when you've reached [b]that[/b] particular level. [i]BTW an example of this might very well be Apple. Hmmmm? Steve Jobs???[/i] [b]Dawg[/b] ]:)

ISTguy
ISTguy

"I'd also like to say that CEOs like Randall Stephenson of AT&T and former CEO good old Bill Gates firmly believe Americans are just too stupid to hire for their companies." There is a complete disconnect between industry needs and what skills schools provide. From my experience, it has been the lack of companies of providing support to the American education system that has created this in the first place. The few companies that do are those who can't hire the foreign workers. Sad part is congress buys into BS, raises the limits on H-1B visas, and further hurts our education system as a result. Why doesn't Bill Gates invest some of his money creating his own computer science school?

RknRlKid
RknRlKid

Someone got this idea of changing the officer evaluation reports to having a section of allowing subordinates and peers to have a say in the evaluation. It was pretty quickly shot down. You can imagine the possible results. The "A+/#1" types would suddenly be seen as what they are: overbearing bullies who bend the rules to promote their own careers, usually at the expense of others. The "kick a$$-take names" types usually have huge people skills deficiencies. Unfortunately, that is EXACTLY the kind of person who does get promoted, because it this person has immediately visible results. They appear to be effective. Unfortunately, the long term results of their management "style" are usually unit failure.

da philster
da philster

Arrogance and self-serving short-term goals can often be perceived by the shareholders as positive factors for the bottom line. For the very short term, (sometimes days or even hours) this may even be so since shareholder loyalty is increasingly "dime sensitive". Successful corporations are generally those who possess leaders having strong people skills and long term strategies for the continued innovation, survival and success of the enterprise. Unlike good leaders, tyrants encourage the "brightest and the best" to look elsewhere, leaving the firm with marginal "yes-men (women)" The harm is not usually apparent in the short term but manifests itself over time as as a ship that no longer floats very well. As long as the "Street" continues to insist on quarterly miracles, the problem will only get worse. On that cheery note, I wish you all a good week-end.

john_ludlow
john_ludlow

Often they are very chummy with the shareholders, but thinks that everyone else is a sort of subhuman mutant who probably shouldn't be allowed out in daylight. The top people in the company support the promotion, but no one else gets a say. We had a Managing Director who was very friendly with sales guys and (when the company floated on the stock market) shareholders, but everyone else could go whistle as far as he was concerned. Unfortunately the damage was done by the time he "left". The company was already heavily in debt and couldn't pay its staff enough to make them stay. There's still a few rats there, but the ship is still sinking.

kryan
kryan

You don't have to be liked to be a good ceo but people under you must be loyal and respect you without that you don't have a viable business. So i'd say no people skills would affect their position in the company, A employee with no trust will only do what needs to be done not go the extra mile when needed for the good of the company.

raycamara
raycamara

Yes about time someone got this right. I have personally witnessed this, and the downfall is exactly as you say. People (including me) leave, leaving behind those less fortunate, and less skilled. A Prime example was what happened in Glendive, MT. Just check the blogs from the Billings Gazette dating back to June of 2006. Skilled Doctors and staff left in droves. You'd think they learn. Apparently they do not read Tech Republic. Some of us are much better for it.

djslam9
djslam9

Personally, I could not agree more. We have a CEO that is great but he surrounds himself with a bunch of yes-men who tell him what he wants to hear. About a year ago, I met an investment banker who watches our company and knows our CEO personally. I'm not sure if our CEO was giving him a skewed idea of what he believed or what he wanted the investment banker to believe but in either case, our company's position in the marketplace is not what was represented. Here in the US, we are not dominant as we are in Japan. Our US management lack people skills as well as management ability but if you hear them tell it, this company rocks.

rich95134
rich95134

I work for a great company with a really great CEO, but below that level... it's another story. We've been experiencing some churn in middle and lower management, many of whom think it's okay to completely disrupt ongoing and successful processes with their own perspectives, despite any significant history on which to draw. The lack of people skills just exacerbates the negative reception they receive-- and they're totally oblivious or just don't care! I actually had a newly migrated manager tell me I would be doing my work plus the work of the two people (who arrived with her) who were supposed to be working with me but she wanted to use elsewhere and to "deal with it"! Oh yeah, no slip in schedule allowed! Well, I'm still here and she's not! The projects got done in spite of her, but it all left a very bitter aftertaste!

webgov
webgov

I've worked for some pretty big corps and seen this in each. Without productive employees there are no profits. And when your best employees have to spend large parts of their time, watching their backs, working two jobs or fuming over abuses, they are not productive. The kids that were bullies, grew up and became bullies in the work place. Until they are dealt with on terms they understand, like being publicly humiliated, demoted or fired, they will continue to destroy the good, productive work force. To put it another way, if the dragons are permitted to continuously decimate the village, all you're left with a blackened ghost town.

elmmj1
elmmj1

I've actually refused job offers due to the CEOs A-Hole behavior. I once had an interview and the CEO priviledged us with his presence via Video Conference. After I was done discussing the details of my resume and accomplishments. He stopped and said "You've been rambling on for the last 15 min. and I have no idea what you've said...how much do you make?" Needless to say...at That point I concluded that this jerk didn't repect anyone and that if he an I were in the same room it would have gotten ugly. I don't care if you are the CEO or the frigg'n Maintenance Staff...everyone deserves respect.

gravwell
gravwell

I'm trying to get an entry level job in the IT industry. I'm studying for Cisco as I'm looking. I want to start where everyone else starts at the bottom and work my way up. I want to know how the industry is how the particular company works. This is a view that is rare it seems in business. I have lost friends because I kept business where it belongs in business. There is an unwritten rule don't hire friends and family, because the line between business and friendship will almost all the time get blurry. Companies want image over substance. It's like cutting into a sizzling steak that's filled with marshmellows. There is a lesson learned in getting your self dirty. CEO should leave the office and know the business your in. CEO does not mean they are Gods. Last year was one of the biggest years of CEO failures. Graduating from the right school doesn't make you competent. Coming from a well to do family doesn't either. Being part of the right fraternity won't make a great CEO. I have seen people of all degrees college and no college show intelligence and leadership abilities. But that doesn't mean anything only, just how you look in a suit.

ben
ben

I don't see how you can have any business success without good "people skills", since so much of building business involves building relationships. You can't do business without dealing with people. So "competent people skills" seems a pre-requisite. Maybe that means different things to different people. To me, it doesn't mean that the CEO has to be someone I'd invite over for dinner and a few beers or is someone I'd like to hang out with (although that's OK too). For selecting someone for any job I have two final questions that need to be answered "yes": 1. Can this person do the job? 2. Will we be able to stand them while they do the job? To answer(1) you evaluate if they have the ability to do what you need them to do. CEOs have to do a lot of different things but several really important ones include: 1. Establish and Communicate the overall vision (a) Inernally so everyone knows what we, as a company, ar trying to do, and (b) Externally to BoD, investors/shareholders, partners, and so on (depends on stage of existence). 2. Put in place the right people to lead execution of the vision and enable them to get on with it. There's a lot more, but these two are essential. The CEO has to establish, one way or another, passion, enthusiasm and commitement throughout the company, and gain support and confidence of the board, investors, shareholders, markets, customers and so on. That seems like a lot of "people skills" to me. Does the CEO have to be a warm, fuzzy, lovable kind of guy? Personally, I think it helps ('cause I think of myself as a likeable, fuzzy and warm kind of guy ;0). But it is not essential. I've seen some good CEOs and senoir execs that were abraisive one-on-one, who were not politically correct (in private...public NPC has gotten CEOs fired even when other performance factors are positive)and maybe not so likable personally, but they earned the respect of everyone they dealt with and instilled confidence and passion in those around them.

kathy
kathy

I've had a very interesting experience previously where the CTO began to systematically eliminate all the A-player technical people in his organization. In each case, it would start by the CTO beginning an argument with the person on decisions they had made regarding the product. The A-player would stand by their decision being the right technical thing to do (it was). It got very bitter, very quick and the CTO would not relent that his decision was better and made life miserable. The A-players lost all faith and trust in the CTO very quickly and would resign (many just walked directly out after giving their notice). Once one left, the CTO would move onto the next one. Very quickly there was close to 50% attrition in the development group, however about 90% of the A-players had left so productivity declined significantly. Once this CTO was through his A-players, he focused on my team. He got the CIO removed and then ownership of my team switched over to be under him. I was his next target as I was Director of that organization. My team had grown to be very efficient. We were delivering 20-30 projects a quarter with an extremely low defect count. Customer's were happy, business teams where happy. What I found interesting about the process of being "pushed out" by this CTO was that it all appeared to be about his lack of trust for our ability to do our jobs (even though we were the most effective group in the company!) He required daily comprehensive status reports, no defect was allowed to be worked without his knowledge, no move was allowed to be made without his consent. I left, and soon after 90% of my team left. BTW, productivity ground to a halt, sales began to go down and there's still a steady stream of exits from that company. What amazes me is that this CTO is still there. He must be a good talker because somehow he's convinced the executive team and board that "getting all these people out" was the best thing for the company. There is one A-player I know left on the executive team and he laughs at the stupidity of the CTO while he has to watch it destroy the company. A-players and effective management need the ability and the space within their jobs to make decisions and guide their team without big-brother oversight. A CTO running a 100+ organization cannot be deep into each decision. They need to be focused on the bigger picture and guiding the technical direction. A good CTO needs to trust the decisions of their A-players. If an A-player architect says "do x" a good CTO will be doing what is needed to make "x" happen not lamb-basting them with criticism for not thinking the way the CTO thinks. I could write a whole book on this experience!

NotSoChiGuy
NotSoChiGuy

That's what a few of us called him...and he was just as big of a flop as the film of a similar name. I was working at my first real tech job, and the company brought in this guy to bring out us out from the red. East Cost Liberal College for his undergrad work: CHECK Ivy League Grad work: Check Former Wall St. Exec: Check As bad as people think paper MCSE's are, paper exec's are far worse, and much more damaging! This guy had the absolute worst communicative skills I have ever seen from an employee, and he had a habit of calling people by different names, even after being corrected (and this was just not us peons, he'd call the CEO of a major client 'JOHN' when his name was 'ROBERT'...small wonder our renew rates were hitting all-time lows). I drew the short straw, and had to sit next to him at an all company 'round table' meeting. He was talking about possibly selling off some corporate assets to help with the bottom line. To quote part of his mindless babblings: "We are currently in deliberations, and have undergone several iterations of declarations of our intentions; and our next step are for reiterations...." (note: a few of the words may be incorrect, but I sweat, this is NOT an exaggeration) Talk about 'Shock and Awe', you should have seen the looks on the faces of the rest of the employees...was like a Munch fan club all trying to re-enact 'The Scream' en masse. This guy was a little bit Dilbert, a little bit Dr. Seuss, and a whole lotta nothing!! Fortunately, soon after this public debacle, Howard the _uck was shown the door (but not without a nice golden parachute, of course). They should do a reality show...pit 9 real life CEO's against a Rhesus Monkey to see which one could do a better job of running an organization (based off of selecting responses to various questions/problems/situations). Create the companies in a virtual world...for the sake of modeling and controls. Tell me that wouldn't be a hit show! Tell me you wouldn't place a $20 bet on the Monkey winning! ;)

Craig_B
Craig_B

I have seen this with people in general and carreer wise with VP/Director level people. The problem I have witnessed is that these people generally have a huge EGO, so much so that they get blinded that other people exist. Instead of building up a team that supports everyone, that take credit for the good things and blame everyone else for the bad things (some are quite skillful with this so it may be hard to see what's really going on). Eventually when the market sags a little and/or the good people move on due to being mistreated the company makes a move and gets rid of the person. However usually the damage has already been done. I have also seen a Managers who build teams, don't take a lot of credit and accomplish much more with what have (the sum is greater than the parts)and the team supports them. These generally turn out to be the best Managers.

boothby
boothby

Well, the prepsident of my company threatened to FIRE ME when I successfully fought for continuation of medical insurance coverage so that I could have CANCER SURGERY. My company had changed carriers, my surgeon was NOT with the new carrier, and the surgeon's office's policy was to charge his almost $20,000 in fees up front (needless to say, that would not have worked for me...). So, it's "Hello, Monster.com!"

tigerbright888
tigerbright888

My opinion is that a corporate structure is an inverted pyramid with the CEO at the bottom point there to support middle management immediately above who are there to support team supervisory immediately above who are there to support direct and indirect labor, immediately above who are there to support the customer and the share holder/parent company. It is the attitude, with the emphasis on consideration and compassion

A_dangerous_mind
A_dangerous_mind

I can remember the CIO of a major bank where I worked. He froze transfers for anyone in IT except for those he personally approved. The memo on this policy concluded with a snotty remark to the effect that this was being done for the good of the company and worry about your career some other time. Those who were burning out and stressing out and had some competence started jumping ship. I heard about his resignation about a month after I had gone to work for a company where my career path and progression actually were not considered something irrelevant to the success of the company.

Locrian_Lyric
Locrian_Lyric

I was there when it was collapsing, the upper management earned the white-hot hatred of it's people, by the time Rupert Murdoch bought it, nobody gave a damn about the company any longer.

chas_2
chas_2

Here in the States, the memory jogger for the distinction is "The principal's your 'pal'," meaning a principal is a person, like a pal or buddy. "The Peter Principle" is not a person. Sorry to be pedantic, but writing skills can hurt an enterprise also.

erikmidtskogen
erikmidtskogen

Bill Gates' fortune is so vast that if he wanted to, he could endow a foundation that would, in perpetuity, furnish computer labs and qualified educational staff to every school in the U.S.

malcolmd3111
malcolmd3111

Effective Senior Executuves manage by both encouragement and discipline. Mediocre one's by fear and greed. I worked for a man in the music business for years who would either ignore you or yell at you. He helped decimate one of the top music companies in the USA. You couldn't decide if being ignored was better than being screamed at. After I left, (given a so called early retirement package) I spent over 2 years looking for a job. Now I work for a remarkable company that has integrity, values creativity and is incredibly enlightened regarding their management values. It is sometimes difficult to believe this is now my reality. Remember though, the lousy CEO is merely a symptom of a greater malaise, (see Microsoft and their Visa initiative). The malaise is that many companies do not value their staff or their own long term challenges, rather focussing on short term profits and the so called bottom line.

Kieran_Burns
Kieran_Burns

At my previous company we had a CIO who was a complete tyrant. I clearly remember having him stood behind me (I'd been with the company less than 2 months) literally screaming at me to get "his" application working. We'd just had a 3rd party company upgrade the network to Netware and I hadn't a clue how to get apps running on a network. It didn't bother him, nor did it matter that we had the entire department having issues. He HAD to have HIS application (Lotus 123!) working. He (unknown to him) gained the nickname of Giraffe, and we had pictures of giraffes around the department. Hanging on the partition walls all over the place. To the day he 'left' (read: was kicked out) he never learnt that GIRAFFE was an acronym for: Generally Ignorant, Rather Arrogant, F**king Fat Executive. We didn't like him very much.

kltullis
kltullis

A CEO is not a good CEO if he surrounds himself with yes men. Eventually that will lead him/her in the wrong direction.

terry.floyd
terry.floyd

I am experiencing a similar drama in my organization. Until recently, we worked under a completely incompetent CIO who is a political appointee with absolutely no technical experience or knowledge, just the right connections to get the job. She was previously CIO at the Department of Corrections, and is now the CIO of the Health Care Services Department. This is, of course, a government job, so she really can't be fired until a new governor is elected and she gets replaced by a different politcal appointee. For the past six months, almost ALL of the top technical staff have left the organization, because they can't stand the CIO or her deputy chief. She will scream at people in her office with the door closed, but everyone on the floor can hear every word she screams. She will humiliate and belittle people in a public meeting without even a thought to how it appears to the rest of the participants. This kind of behavior intimidates people with far more technical knowledge than she possesses, so her decisions are never questioned publicly, even when everyone ridicules her in private. There were howls of laughter around the office last December when a popular technical magazine wrote a flattering article featuring an interview with her, which portrayed her as a "visionary leader" in the technical field. It's too bad the reporter never bothered to interview the people who have to work under this troll, or the top-notch talent she has driven away from the organization by her childish bullying behavior.

tony.maine
tony.maine

This guy has a mental disorder. How he got to be in his position is beyond me unless of course it was an Australian company.

elmmj1
elmmj1

Not to trump your comment but everyone has an EGO. Without it you wouldn't be you. The problem is that some people have weak or damamged EGOs. They need to feel fullfilled through demeaning and controlling others. I think when weak individuals get into power positions like this they be come a danger to all.

ben
ben

Craig_B hit it spot on. " have also seen a Managers who build teams, don't take a lot of credit and accomplish much more with what have (the sum is greater than the parts)and the team supports them. These generally turn out to be the best Managers. " That would be half of my definition of "management". The other core/critical part is leadership - establishing a clear vision and connecting each person and activity to that. As for "taking credit", I prefer cash and equity ;-)

sleepin'dawg
sleepin'dawg

I was trying for speed, which usually screws the pooch for me. BTW, not just writing skills but the inability to spell correctly can damage a company's image.

john_ludlow
john_ludlow

And he could call it the Bill And Melinda Gates Foundation... I think he's already involved with some charitable concerns - I heard something about him promoting computer use in the Third World.

elmmj1
elmmj1

It's all spin...I believe that the Captain of the ship should be able to perform any job on it or at least respect those who are more knowledgeable to make the right decisions. I have the same situation here but no yelling thankfully.

hoosier
hoosier

Our whole programming staff left, went private, started own businesses after the CIO messed up so many projects, and wasted millions. Dumping million dollar projects of 18 mo work, and scrapping it at 98% & 2mo before nationwide rollout! I left a scathing exit letter to the CEO who was buddies, but didn't know the details of what was going on. The CIO sugar coated all his doings, and the CEO went along. But the exit letter painted a different picture. I have not worked for another Fortune 500 co. after that, no desire too. Can an ineffective CEO or CIO kill a company: YES Can a CIO not knowing his industry kill a company: YES Should top promotions be from within, as the company grows: YES This crap about finding a CIO by executive headhunters is killing a lot of good companies. As you see formerly well know companies dwindle into an industry footnote. And new rising companies with bright ideas and innovation coming from those who quit. Many CEO's & CIO's are just not intune or listen to the low man on the totem pole who uses or understand the root level operation. So I guess my plea to Corporate America - Get out of your lofy offices, and talk to John, Tre and Susan... as well as listen. Take off those $1,000 suits and grab some jeans or dockers one day - and find out what can be done better, and ask them why. You kill two birds with one stone. More productivity, as well as make the shareholders pockets better. Since I dropped doing business or purchasing with ALL companies that have outsourced, my world is a lot smoother (especially tech support calls and questions!)

A_dangerous_mind
A_dangerous_mind

The CIO of the major bank where I worked who had to approve personally all transfers also had a very flattering article appear about him shortly before his resignation was requested. Sometimes the reporters for IT publications don't seem past the personal hype.

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