New Rules for Top Dogs in the Next Economy

Famous CEOs and Entrepreneurs continue to make headlines and probably always will. From Sir Branson to Mr. Jobs and Ms. Stewart and many others, you’d think that their celebrity is not only justified, but is essential to the brands they steward. You’d be right! But maybe not for the reasons you might think.

As brands become more about real value relative to expectation, the company delivering that expectation absolutely has to be about the leadership that is setting it. As differentiation becomes inseparable from innovation, leadership too must become much more than about PR management and covering your ASSets. Not understanding the interrelated dependencies between customer, employee/partner and shareholder satisfaction, and focusing only on who gets you ahead in the short term will cost you, dearly. The recent fate of Ken Lays, The evil bald dude from Tyco, and even our beloved Carly of HP fame should prove as adequate examples for now (I’ve got many more…).

Unfortunately, the past economy was predicated on top down control, and subsequently narcissistic personalities were, generally the right fit to wade through company politics (and deals) to the top. In the connection age however, that mindset hurts not only the bruised egos of the passed over VPs and the silent partners, it hurts the brand.

See, the narcissistic leader (to borrow from Malcolm Gladwell) embodies the following qualities (see if it applies to your leader):

Narcissists typically make judgments with greater confidence than other people…and, because their judgments are rendered with such conviction, other people tend to believe them and the narcissists become disproportionately more influential in group situations. Finally, because of their self-confidence and strong need for recognition, narcissists tend to "self-nominate;" consequently, when a leadership gap appears in a group or organization, the narcissists rush to fill it.

From the red state constituents to those who put Putin in power, the mentalities of leaders who embody this kind of thinking largely go unnoticed; but rest assured, their narcissistic actions absolutely affects their brand (or country as the case may be).

In an interconnected society the smoke eventually clears, and mirrors reveal all the stuff Botox couldn’t possibly hide. It’s time for leaders to admit mistakes (quickly), listen, and let true talent shine. If they don’t they’ll not only have no place to hide, their brands will have no competitive juice in the marketplace.

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