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Aug 19, 201310:39 AMMad @ Mgmt

with Walter Simson

The speech all new CEOs should give

(page 1 of 2)

I once took one of those business simulation courses. In it, we were given a computer terminal, an inbox, and a walkie-talkie. Our simulated company, Acme Widget, was said to be in trouble, and the point of the exercise was to evaluate our crisis management skills. There was a team of psychologists who were looking for leadership and other soft skills that might help us do well during a pressure-filled day.

The fellow who had been chosen as simulated CEO of our team was an up-and-coming executive in a Fortune 100 company. He was clearly acting as CEO in the exercise because his company had indicated he had so much potential.

The psychologists asked the “CEO” to give his motivational speech as the simulation began.

The CEO said, “Our job is to grow revenue faster than expense. Now get to work!”

That was it.

Would it surprise you to hear that Acme Widgets did not survive the simulated crisis? The emails flew, the disasters proliferated, and the team fell apart. I thought then, and I still believe, that the CEO’s speech could have made a big difference in how our team performed.

Here is what he should have said. As a matter of fact, this is the speech that I give when I take over companies as an interim president.

“My name is Walter, and I will be CEO of this company. I am not an expert in many of the aspects of the business, so I hope you will be open with me when I ask questions. I am not probing to look for weaknesses in you or your colleagues but to see how we are doing things now and how we might look for improvements. My interest is in processes, not personalities. I am not here to hurt anyone, just to see that we all work together to further the corporate fortunes.

“I have a few expectations. I’d like to share them with you now.

“The first is safety. Whether you work with machines or in the office, I’d like to promote a culture that ensures that we all go home safely at the end of the workday. I will be asking specific questions on this aspect. Not for money reasons or for insurance, but because we are all in this together, and we can’t promote that feeling if someone is risking his or her hands in the factory or a sore back in the filing room. Please be open as to how this concern might be addressed.

“The second expectation is respect. This expectation is one you can aim at me. You should expect that I treat you with respect at all times. This means no shouting, yelling, or baiting. And I will expect the same treatment in return, and that the same courtesies will be extended to others in the company, at all levels. That doesn’t mean we can’t be human — as a matter of fact, I do like to hear laughter and chatter — but it must be kept on a basic, respectful level.


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Aug 22, 2013 01:07 pm
 Posted by  Anonymous

A lot of CEOs are going to cut-and-paste this into an email and hit Send. Too bad, because it has to be said face-to-face for the full impact.

Aug 22, 2013 11:18 pm
 Posted by  Anonymous

As an employee listening to this speech I would probably react more with fear than motivation. Hard to put my finger on why. Lots of nice words like "respect," "teamwork," and "integrity." I appreciate the good effort to define what these big vague words mean... at least what they mean to the new CEO. However, the tone is a bit "So speaketh the Lord." The ego here is a little overarching. "Here are my values, and if you adhere to them, we will all be successful." I would be more inspired if the last line of the speech was "Please let me know if I am (not we are) falling short in these areas." I'm hoping this tone was not intended, but it's a little too didactic, as is the title itself -- "All" CEO's "Should" give this speech. Really?

Aug 6, 2016 04:35 am
 Posted by  Anonymous

Great aggregation of content Emil (start with why is one of my motto now). When I failed to achieve my team goals, I realized that it’s because there was a lack of team member motivation, which then turned out to be a lack of clear expectations for each team member.

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