Talking & Walking in the Same Direction

by Jay Deragon on 08/25/2010

A McKinsey  article titled Leadership Lessons For Hard Times states:  We interviewed the leaders of 14 major companies  all seasoned CEOs or chairmen, asking them to reflect on what they felt they had learned.

What emerges from the interviews is agreement on some broad principles that can help guide behavior in the executive suite and the boardroom, as well as interactions with employees, customers, and investors.

The lessons from the interviews in summary are below:

  1. Confront reality: Always question whether the “halo effect” of a business or business situation is blinding you to what lies on the horizon.—Herbert Henkel, chairman and CEO of Ingersoll Rand
  2. At board meetings, put strategy center stage: The board has been heavily involved in strategy formulation with me, and we have a better strategy because of it.—Bill Nuti, chairman and CEO of NCR
  3. Be transparent with employees . . .The only way to address uncertainty is to communicate and communicate. And when you think you’ve just about got to everybody, then communicate some more.—Terry Lundgren, chairman, president, and CEO of Macy’s
  4. . . . and investors: Our policy is: “If in doubt, communicate.” We always want to conduct our business with integrity and forthrightness.—Ron Sugar, chairman and CEO of Northrop Grumman
  5. Build and protect the culture: Stay focused on culture, people, and values: it’s the area most likely to get compromised in this environment.—Eric Foss, chairman and CEO of Pepsi Bottling Group
  6. Keep faith with the future: If you don’t invest in the future and don’t plan for the future, there won’t be one.—George Buckley, chairman, president, and CEO of 3M

Do They Walk The Talk?

Notice the responses from the interviews McKinsey conducted were focused on communications, people and strategy. While the leaders of these companies emphasized common elements required of leadership during hard times one must ask do they walk or talk the talk?

UberCEO recently did a study with the headline “It’s Official: Fortune 100 CEOs Are Social Media Slackers.” It goes on to analyze the social-media habits of CEOs at large companies and concluded, shockingly, that they don’t use social media much. The study states:

We’re surprised, but not shocked, to find that the top CEOs in the country appear to be mostly absent from the social media community.  That’s the result from research we conducted over the past several weeks.  We looked at Fortune’s 2009 list of the top 100 CEOs to determine how many were using Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Wikipedia, or had a blog.  The results show a miserable level of engagement.  Here are the topline results:

  • Only two CEOs have Twitter accounts.
  • 13 CEOs have LinkedIn profiles, and of those only three have more than 10 connections.
  • 81% of CEOs don’t have a personal Facebook page.
  • Three quarters of the CEOs have some kind of Wikipedia entry, but nearly a third of those have limited or outdated information.
  • Not one Fortune 100 CEO has a blog.

The full results of the research can be accessed and downloaded by clicking the image below.  And yes, we name names as to who is doing well, and who is screwing it up. See full study results here

Now consider the contrast between what leaders said in the McKinsey interviews and what the OberCEO study shows relative to use of social media.  There are arguments everywhere as to whether CEO’s should engage in social media.  It is ironic to see the “Lessons From Leaders” put so much emphasis on communications, people and strategy. Isn’t social media all about communications, people and aren’t those things strategically important? Just maybe I am or they are missing something.

Are you walking or talking the talk?

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BizBuzzMedia (The Team (Pierre+)) August 27, 2010 at 9:40 am

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Do Leaders, CEO’s really walk the talk or has I have found talk the walk? [link to post]

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Pierre Rattini August 27, 2010 at 9:29 am

This was very enlightening.

I rarely meet CEO or heads of companies or departments who don’t give the image they care or on top of all theses issues. The unfortunate thing is when you start getting to know them through the employees or via social media a different person and image appears.

Annalie Killian August 25, 2010 at 6:35 am

Not surprising research results….everyone of those CEOs probably has an opinion about the value of social media. Reminds me of the way people used to think about China- all there information was second hand or maybe they once passed through the airport in Hong Kong and claim they’ve been to China. Of course you wouldnt dream of doing business in a foreign country until you have been there and immersed yourself a bit in the culture, eaten the food, drank the local beer, chatted with the locals, gossiped with the taxi draiver, got ripped off at the local market for paying to much and not understanding the pricing mechanisms, and observed the habits of the people. Social Media is the same- you cannot “get” the rich opportunities that it can bring if you don’t immerse yourself in the culture, talk to the people, breathe the air, listen to the gossip….or avoid the pitfalls.

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