The Imperial or superstar chief executive was a prominent feature of the 20th Century.These CEO’s make decisions and develop strategies with little input and discussion. Their decisions are above criticism and challenge. They adopt lifestyles that make them celebrities, and their companies become vehicles that make them “rock stars.” They are supported by technology that is designed to keep them in touch 24/7. But in reality, most imperial CEOs are dangerously out of touch with the people they lead, particularly when it comes to the issue of strategy implementation and development.
These men often possess highly aggressive and enterprising natures and successfully built personality cults which often transcended their companies. Men like Jack Welch of General Electric, Steve Ballmer of Microsoft, and a large number of Nigerian bank Chief Executives.
Members of the C-suite—the CEOs, CFOs, and other chiefs—traditionally focus on managing their companies’ financial assets. But a solely financial focus can make senior staff members appear unapproachable and more consumed with dividends and returns on investment than with the development and performance of their employees. However, changes in the rules governing the accountability and liability of boards have played a major role in motivating directors to rein in their managers.
The pendulum is gently swinging in favour of a compassionate, benevolent chief executive and away from the imperial boss. This is especially true in industries that are highly regulated, such as financial, as well as in the retail and consumer sectors where likeability is vital.
Whilst the trend is toward a more emotionally intelligent leader who can understand, get, appreciate and value his or her people, yet CEOs do need to build some kind of presence because a company’s reputation is so linked to that of its leaders. while the pendulum is swinging away from the imperial leader, Experts caution that there are risks if the pendulum swings too far in the direction of the low profile leader; most notably, it could diminish and weaken the top position by making it less attractive to lure top talent.