Are we doing enough to keep CEO behaviour in check?

As a crisis communications consultant, I’m often called into companies when they find themselves dealing with the aftermath of bad, or even disastrous, behavior by CEOs and other senior executives. Experience has taught me that there are profound differences between those companies that handle such situations well and those that do far too little, too late.  [Via Harvard Business Review]

Why talk about it?  We are used to hearing the salacious details of rogue CEOs whose bad behaviour makes for headline news.  2019 was a big year from CEO departures, with Fortune calling it “the Great CEO Exodus of 2019.”

Excluding CEOs who voluntarily stepped down because of retirement, new opportunities etc, there were still a few who left amid scandal and alleged misconduct.

In these circumstances, the ramifications can be devastating and adversely affect the whole business.  There’s only so much lawyers and PR handlers can do when the proverbial hits the fan.

Times have changed and what used to be brushed under the carpet or downplayed, is now no longer the case.

Companies who proactively manage this well, according to HBR, have peer management at the board level, an anonymous tip line managed by a third party and a proactive board that takes the time to discuss concerns about their CEO (and commits to action).

It sounds simple, but these basic things are still not happening effectively within businesses.  We deem many CEOs to be untouchable or we feel they wield too much power, particularly if they privately own the business, for even the most senior HR or legal professional to deal with on their own.

However, poor behaviour is bad for business and what happens behind closed doors will eventually come to light.  So you can do nothing, and hope for the best, or get the support you need to keep CEO behaviour in check. My thoughts are with you.  Believe me, I know it’s not easy.

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