There’s a lot of talk lately about CEOs speaking out on issues. Chick-fil-A’s (and Amazon’s) CEO’s stance on gay marriage is certainly in the spotlight.
But, did you know that on gay marriage, Chick-fil-A’s CEO holds the same stance as our president… circa 90 days ago? Perception is a powerful thing my friends.
FYI, I don’t agree with Chick-fil-A’s CEO. But, that’s for another day…
I’m outspoken. I’m trying to put together a startup. It scares me that outspoken CEOs may be on the way out. In America today, we listen to a lot of signals, from politicians to celebrities… and everything in between.
To be a successful CEO, you have to get a lot right. A bad CEO can cost companies dearly. A good CEO can change the world.
But, in general, a good CEO is someone that has to be worldly. They have to be opinionated. When Michael Jackson dangles a (metaphorical) child out the window, do we boycott him? As a society in general, the answer is no… we don’t.
Likewise, when celebrities take positions, we generally see them as signals of the direction of popular culture. Likewise, our leaders in politics… the difference there is that we are asked, nay, begged to vote for them.
Yes, CEOs have money, and do support politicians. But no more or less than celebrities.
The reason why this is personal for me, is I envision a future where outspoken CEOs face threats not just from politics, but from the competition. What’s stopping Burger King from hiring a social media company to smear Chick-fil-A on the topic of gay marriage? A few well-placed (and paid for) flash mobs, and suddenly Chick-fil-A is catching a lot of bad press.
Okay, that was comical. I don’t think Burger King is waging a wag-the-dog war on Chick-fil-A.
But, a small time startup engineering some major new gadget, could easily take flack from a corporate giant, for his/her CEO’s musings. That same technique could easily be used as a weapon.
Perception is everything folks, ask yourself the next time someone on that television/blog/feed takes a daring position, if you weren’t accepting of plenty of other people that held that opinion lately. If we don’t all do that, I fear CEOs will start walking around with their mouths shut.
And that means that like politics, a lot of good people will avoid walking out onto the field, because of the unfair mud that gets slung in their faces.