It’s too simple to say some business executives perform better than others. Way too many factors determine a company’s success or failure than just the actions of the CEO. Especially companies that have been around for a long time.
I talk a lot about brand names. Because a great brand name makes everything easier.
We have great brand names in Memphis. FedEx, although the company originally didn’t want people saying FedEx, is a great brand. Federal gave the brand credibility in its earliest days. Auto Zone, though not the original name, is a strong brand. Better, I think, than the original, Auto Shack. LifeBlood’s a classic.
A great brand name you’ve probably never given a thought about is WKNO. Think about it. Public broadcasting in America has been a fact since the early Twentieth Century.
There’s one thing that everybody in every company can do to help make the company successful: be a mystery shopper. Test how easy it is to do business with your company.
A couple weeks ago I tried to make a reservation for a golf package on Alabama’s Robert Trent Jones Golf Trail. I went to the web site and called the direct number for the hotel on a Saturday evening. I was told to call back between nine and five on Sunday. I tried another number on the web site and got an answering machine with an announcement that I needed an extension number to reach anybody.
Lou Gerstner resurrected IBM with no previous knowledge of IBM’s business. He proved that a lack of company, even category, experience can be overcome. Gerstner was the exception.
A CEO with the full body of knowledge about a company and its category has a huge leg up. CEOs who grow up in a company know the pressure points at every level. They know where each job fits in the total scheme. They know the industry. And that means they know the competition.