This week’s announcement from Research in Motion didn’t exactly cause a new buyer’s rush for its stock.  It closed down for the day – nearly a buck and a half, or about 8%.  This is not the reaction one hopes for when announcing a new CEO, Thorsten Heins, is taking over.

I share that lack of enthusiasm.

In the video released to “introduce” Heins using his message to the employees of RIM, he was so low-key that it was underwhelming:

“I’m actually excited…”, he noted.  That was smart to say – because they way he said it carried the enthusiasm of someone being told they had just won a box of Girl Guide cookies in the office lunchroom.  His additional comments, including that they’ve “learned to execute,” was unlikely to make the hearts and minds of many tech executives more confident about how they will look after their needs.

His smile as he noted, “I think we need to get a bit more discipline in our own processes…”; probably didn’t reassure anyone that he has the tough mindedness required to get this ship turned around before it becomes the next Casta Concordia.

Mr. Heins may be the best of the company’s COOs and one hopes that’s why he got the promotion to CEO. But in any large organization – especially one in desperate need of a makeover – the CEO needs to be a great leader in addition to his technical skills. Otherwise, the CEO can’t herd the cats properly.  Worse, the new boss can be lulled into a sense of false security by all the smiling faces sitting in his or her team meetings each week.

My advice:

1. Create that all-important 100-day Plan.

2. Tell everyone what it says.  Every week talk about it in every meeting.

3. Fire some people.  You need show that you have the right stuff to do what’s needed to turn this thing around.  Start with the ones you don’t trust to back you up.

4. Become an evangelist – share success stories with everyone from the lowest levels to those on Wall Street.

5. Visit your customers and be open to their wants.  Surprise them by over- delivering on commitments.

6. Make sure your engineers, designers, marketers, and accountants are acting like their jobs depend on fixing this situation quickly.  Because they do.

Here’s to the future…


Executive and Leadership Coach