My name is Mark Wayman, and I’m an Executive Recruiter focused on gaming and high tech. Over the last thirteen years I have placed 800+ executives. Compensation starts at $100,000, average placement is $250,000, and last year I placed several executives north of a million dollars.
First off, THANK YOU to everyone that read, shared, liked and responded to my last two articles. There were thousands and thousands of you, and though I can’t thank you all individually, consider this a group hug.
- From Park Place…to the Park Bench: A Headhunters Secrets for NOT Ending Up Unemployed
- It is NOT an Honor and Privilege to Work Here!
Today’s topic is mediocre CEOs…and I know many! We will refer to the CEO as “him”, however mediocrity is not gender biased; applies to both men and women. Outlined below are six reasons a CEO should be terminated. You may be wondering, how did these folks get their jobs? And given their behavior, how do they keep them? Well, my friends, it’s because relationships trump talent every day of the week. They have a relationship with someone on the Board of Directors, or if the company is privately held, they might be the Founder/CEO. Regardless, ego is typically the enemy, so here are my top six reasons they should be terminated.
Focused on Self; NOT Shareholders – Let’s address the elephant in the room. Some CEOs are completely self-focused and not the least bit concerned with company performance or rewarding the shareholders. It’s one thing to abuse company resources when you OWN the company. It’s something completely different to leverage those company resources when you are a publicly traded entity with a Board of Directors and shareholders. I have seen CEOs that flit around on the company jet for vacations; use company funds to buy tables at charity events so they can be the BMOC (big man on campus) with their cronies. They dine at luxurious restaurants and stay at five star hotels when they travel. They use company money to buy front row concert tickets to “entertain clients.” Is that really in the best interest of the shareholders? They justify it with “I deserve it”; however there are plenty of CEOs that don’t abuse company assets.
Does not Participate in Key Hires: “Not My Job” Syndrome – As an Executive Recruiter, dealt with several of these over the years. CEOs so self-focused they don’t have the time to participate in hiring key employees. What a recipe for disaster! It’s one thing to opt out at the lower level, however at the VP level and up, the CEO should at least take a 30 minutes to meet the candidate and validate that the chemistry/culture. Recently I saw two of these situations. In both cases the stock went south, and eventually the CEO was terminated. But not before he/she set the company back five to ten years.
Hires His Drinking Buddies – Not sure which is worse, a CEO that does not participate in key hires, or the one that hires all his friends. This one is a royal pain in my ass. Lord, send me $100 for every search I lost because the CEO hired one of his drinking buddies. I would just go live on an island in the Bahamas. I’ll say it again, and if you get nothing else from this article, understand this: Relationships trump talent. It’s a major reason that mediocre executives continue to get jobs. Over and over! Trust me, as Recruiters we sit there scratching our heads going, “How did that happen?”
Favors Politics Over Good Old Fashioned Hard Work – Great CEOs believe in good old fashioned hard work. My Dad jumped out of a plane over Normandy on D-Day, and then sold shoes at the May Company while he went to college at night. He worked tirelessly for 40 years to build his software business and buy shoe stores. They truly were “the greatest generation.” These days, many CEOs favor politics over hard work. Provided they have a buddy on the Board of Directors, they can hang out for years…and wreck the company. I know one CEO that spent five years running a company into the ground. Eventually the stock dropped so far that the company was acquired and the CEO was terminated. The real losers? The shareholders.
Dips His Pen in the Company Ink – This one comes in two forms, inappropriate relationships, and betrayal of fiduciary responsibility. These days, sexual harassment and inappropriate relationships are all over the news. Most times it’s with an employee; however it could also be with a vendor. For the CEO, it’s essential that his reputation be above reproach. Betrayal of fiduciary responsibility is a second hot topic, aka embezzlement. This could be outright stealing; however again, it also takes the form of “relationships” with vendors. One Executive Recruiter is rumored to provide free cruises to CEOs. Another takes his clients to Strip clubs. Integrity has joined the endangered list in America.
The “Not From Here” Complex – Maybe this is just a Las Vegas thing, but we occasionally get CEOs that are not from here, know nothing about the casino industry, but are under the misguided impression they’re going to show us “Las Vegas hillbillies” how to do gaming. Bahahahaha! Las Vegas is a town of two million run by two hundred, and the gaming industry does not tolerate fools. For the record, casinos are about the most efficiently run business on the planet. Names withheld to protect the guilty, these folks last a year or two, only because the Board of Directors is too vain to admit they made a hiring mistake.