The CEO as your Chief Public Speaker
Your chief executive officer, CEO, could be the most powerful spokesperson for your organization. The market wants to hear from the leader. Customers and clients want to know the CEO. The media are often eager to interview and quote an effective leader. Is your organization getting the best return on the speaking skills of your leader?
Let’s review the results of a few effective speakers and a couple who were not.
Jack Welch, Chief Public Speaker for GE
As chief company spokesperson, chief executive officer, Jack Welch invigorated General Electric. His management style in conjunction with his public persona moved GE forward. To drive the enormous change, he envisioned within the company he needed to speak to the staff, industry and public. He delivered his message of vision, change and hope.
Lee Iacocca, Chief Public Speaker for Chrysler
Lee Iacocca, chief executive officer of Chrysler seemed to do more by his speaking skills then by any other secret bullet to resurrect Chrysler from the brink of the abyss. It was his power of speaking, negotiation and influence that got the US government backing for Chrysler when there was no Then it was his speaking to the public in television ads that convinced consumers to buy Chrysler.
Henry Ford, Founder of Ford
Henry Ford founded the Ford Motor company. He did more that that, he spoke to the public. He captured their attention and especially their imagination.
Each of these executive leaders moved their organizations forward through tremendous change. Each faced incredible obstacles. Each put their brand of leadership on the organization. Yet each will be remembered most for their public speaking. They are still quoted today.
And yes, each has been publicly criticized for their leadership style and public speaking. Does that scare you? To be the chief executive you will rub some people the wrong way. It comes with the job. So why not accept all the reasonability of the role. Don’t hide behind your PR department, lawyers or corporate spokesperson.
When you are the CEO you are the chief company spokesperson. The buck stops with you. If you want us to believe your message, we need to hear directly from you – not your delegates.
Not every CEO is a good public spokesperson.
Bill Gates & Steve Ballmer
Bill Gates was smart enough to realize that he did not like the public speaking role. While he was chief executive officer, he performed the necessary duties of speaking to the public. He did it poorly but because of the shear power of Microsoft we listened to whatever he said. Money and market power speak for themselves. But Bill Gates knew he did not want to be in front of the public delivering a speech. He wanted to play with the technology. So he wisely stepped aside and appointed Steve Ballmer as the CEO. Here was a man who gleefully could fulfill the role of chief spokesperson for the company. He gladly and enthusiastically delivered speeches to the public.
A bad public face can ferociously end the career of an aspiring executive and kill chances of ever becoming chief executive. Remember Jacques Nasser, CEO of Ford during the tire blowouts and rollovers of the Ford SUV fiasco? To ally public fears and restore confidence in Ford Jacques Nasser appeared in TV ads to speak to the public. He looked horrible. He looked untrustworthy. He appeared insincere. No way could the public believe this chief executive. Did you notice how quickly he disappeared from the picture? The company smartly decided that it was time to put a Ford back into the chief executive role. Ford had the right idea. Jacques Nasser was not equipped do the job. He was a terrible Chief Public Speaker.
What about Steve Jobs?
You might be wondering why I didn’t mention Steve Jobs in this post. That’s because he was an exceptional Chief Executive Speaker and worthy of a post all on his own. Watch for it.
What can you do for a chief executive who needs improvement for their speaking and presentation skills? Provide executive coaching. Naturally they must want to get better and deliver their message to the public and marketplace.
If it’s time to boost the presentation skills of Chief Executive Officer, then call me now to get started. It starts with an initial conversation to get acquainted and explore the possibilities.
Chief Executive Speaking