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on May 14, 2003
In CEO Capital, Leslie Gaines-Ross has written an insightful and enlightening book for those who want to increase the positive visibility and reputation of their CEO. It is a surprise to this reviewer that more books have not been written on the subject of how to master the art of building your reputation when both your own personal future and corporate future may be resting on it.
The celebrity hungry society of today looks to corporate movers and shakers especially the CEO as icons of a particular company. Think about Lee Iacocca, Jack Welch, Richard Branson, Bill Gates and Steve Jobs to mention just a few. How much of your opinion of these companies (and notice I don't even have to mention which companies they run/ran) is based on your perceived image of the CEO? The phrase `you are your company' has never been more true, especially in the post Enron & Arthur Anderson world. How has your opinion of Enron changed now that you know more about Jeff Skilling and Andrew Fastow? Despite any fraud at Enron being committed by the few and not the masses of the organization, our entire perception of Enron has shifted to the iconic few.
Part I of CEO Capital is a contextual look at CEO capital: what it is, where it comes from and how it can be built. Gaines-Ross draws us in by looking at the CEO Effect by citing some examples as far back as 1985 starting with Roberto Goizueta, then CEO of Coca-Cola and the whole `New Coke' revolt, that could have been a fatal disaster for the company. But Goizueta, trading on his CEO capital, not only avoided being removed but was able to bring the company back even stronger.
Part II is most interesting and is centered on the five stages postulated in the CEO capital model which take you by the hand, and step by step go through best practices (ed: hate that term but in this situation it is apt), principles and linkages to factors affecting the building of CEO capital. As the book says, `the reader may be left with the impression that the stages read almost like a manual on how to lead a company. This perception is quite acceptable and entirely reasonable because nothing is more conducive to building CEO capital than building a strong, high-performing company. Any similarity between the two is entirely intentional.' Which is indeed how it reads, but in doing so, broadens the scope of the content to be relevant to a wider audience of business managers and executives who may not be leading Fortune 500 type companies (yet!). In fact, they may be the very leaders who will gain most from this book, since they are not too arrogant to learn and may gain the most from any capital building opportunities presented to them.
Chapters in the book include guidance on the Countdown (the time before the CEO-elect takes office), the First One Hundred days and the First Year, and then of course the second year in office which is always much harder than the first.
Gaines-Ross has written a truly pioneering work - overall an excellent book on a little-written about subject. The book is practically written and you should not let its somewhat `user manual' style detract you from putting its advice into action. Recommended for CEOs and CEOs to-be of all sized companies, as well as other corporate officers and marketing/PR professionals who may guide along the process.
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on January 17, 2003
Until I read this book I did not realize the importance of communicating the 'how','why', 'when' of each executive decision. Given the crisis environment dominating corporate America today, I think CEOs need to add another word to their title and become chief executive and communications officers. Without communicating and finding their voice as leaders, I think CEOs will have a hard time earning public trust. This book provides a great blue print for understanding the commotion we read about in the papers.
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on December 30, 2002
With the collapse of the "celebrity CEO" currency it was perhaps inevitable and certainly necessary that someone should examine what value, if any, the public reputation of a CEO carries. In CEO Capital, Dr. Gaines-Ross ably dismantles many of the existing myths of CEO reputation and presents a well-researched, clearly organized guide to corporate leadership. As it turns out, CEO reputation does matter, but not in the ways that we have become accustomed to think about it in the recent past. CEO Capital provides measurable proof of the considerable market impact of a positive CEO reputation and how that reputation is built through, integrity, communication, team building, planning and vision. The tenure of every CEO is new and uncharted territory. For the talented few who make it there and for the teams they rely on to support them - board members, search committees, top level executives, marketing and communications officers - CEO Capital is a much needed handbook for survival and success.
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on December 23, 2002
CEO Capital is an easy to read and useful book that provides leaders with a common sense approach to leading successful companies. Gaines-Ross presents a timely strategic framework for managing CEO reputation in uncertain and risky times. Her straightforward prose outlines what CEOs should be doing each step of the way, particularly in light of shortened time tables, heightened media scrutiny and accelerating demands from powerful special interest groups. Her description of what new CEOs should be doing in their first 100 days is right on - the book does an excellent job of reminding CEOs and aspiring leaders that their reputation and credibility are their most valuable assets and should not be left to chance.
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on February 19, 2003
Immense credit must be given to Dr. Gaines-Ross who bravely and successfully takes on, notwithstanding the post Enron anti-CEO environment, the hypersensitive issue of CEO reputation. Yes, agrees Gaines-Ross, being a high profile, ego obsessed CEO is asking for trouble and is to be avoided like the plague. She refuses, however, to engage in the now fashionable tendency toward unrestrained CEO bashing, preferring instead a reasoned, astute and carefully researched analysis of the CEO's role.
While adding her voice to those who deride media hyped personalities, what she refers to as big "C" Celebrity CEOs, she cautions that old fashioned leadership is still desirable. When engaged in by talented CEOs, it may, indeed should, lead to the creation of an executive persona. Such a persona need not require media exposure and is entirely compatible with sound corporate practice. Such persona bearing CEOs are small "c" celebrated CEOs, who "by dint of strong leadership, discriminating vision, force of character and other admirable traits become celebrated by their employees, their industry, their peers, and occasionally (though not necessarily) even the media for jobs well done."
Gaines-Ross' book amounts to a much needed, intellectually honest warning not to let the anti-CEO backlash go too far. Refusing to jump blindly onto the anti-CEO bandwagon as have so many business pundits, she stresses that executive leadership is still necessary and if effectively and ethically rendered is something which should not be hidden under the rug but promoted openly. In pursuing the cause of sound, old fashioned corporate leadership, she lays out a roadmap, based on original research, on how CEOs may repair their reputations, stressing among other things the need to communicate internally, build a management team, develop a thematic stamp and a vision.
She deserves immense praise not only for her honest appraisal of the role of CEOs in today's business environment but also for presenting an immensely practical and useful format on how to lead ethically, energetically and effectively.
A major, original addition to the literature on leadership and reputation ... no doubt about it.
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on September 18, 2003
We have all been witness to the lionisation, and thereafter, the demonisation of CEOs.
As we watched some of the finest corporate reputations bite the dust, we also became acutely aware that there is no 'secret sauce' to brew a fine reputation. Yet there are some basic principles that apply and that is what this book sheds light on.
CEO Capital is not about impression management or building personality cults. Nor is it a simple 1-2-3 recipe for assembling a chief executive's reputation. It is for serious business professionals who recognise and honour the immensity of the chief executive's job, especially in today's complex business environment.
Over the past few years, Burson-Marsteller has contributed significantly to the body of knowledge through a series of research studies looking at CEO reputation and its contribution to broader corporate reputation. Those studies have found a significant - and growing - correlation between the credibility of the chief executive and reputation of his or her organisation.
The principal architect of that research is Leslie Gaines-Ross, B-M's chief knowledge officer, who joined the firm after serving as director of marketing and communication at Fortune magazine, where she was closely involved in the publication's Most Admired Corporations research.
In the book, Gaines-Ross builds on Burson's research and lays out a roadmap for CEOs who understand the increasing importance of both personal and institutional credibility. CEO reputation, according to this book, is dependent upon three 'C' factors -credibility, code of ethics, and communicating internally - and two 'M' factors - attracting and retaining a quality management team and motivating and inspiring employees.
So important are the CM factors that each one surpassed even wealth creation in importance according to the 2001 Burson-Marsteller study, she writes. Evidently, financial performance is important, but simply not enough.
Gaines-Ross makes a compelling case that building CEO capital is not about ego, but about good, old-fashioned leadership. And she shows that it has payoffs for the organisation. But before embarking on what Gaines-Ross calls "the CEO capital model of building reputation," the CEO must buy into the importance of building his or her personal credibility.
The most practical section of the book, based upon B-M's 'Seasons of a CEO' research, provides a roadmap for a new CEO seeking to build credibility inside and outside the organisation.
That task begins in the countdown period, before he or she takes office. The countdown is a time to cherish -a time when a CEO may quietly plan for the future, contact key shareholders, research the company, and do all those innumerable tasks for which there will be so little time later, says Gaines-Ross.
The first 100 days of a CEO's tenure are critical, and a time when the focus should be inward rather than on external audiences.
The media should be low on the list of priorities for a new CEO during the first 100 days, says Gaines-Ross. Media exposure without full opportunity to gain a thorough understanding of corporate workings is an invitation to disaster.
As the first year progresses, the focus slowly shifts. The CEO must establish a unique corporate persona in which the CEO's every action and deed reflects in some way the corporate values the CEO wishes to advance and the vision the CEO wishes to instil.
The first step is to engage in what Gaines-Ross calls "intense learning," from customers, from analysts, from alumni, from employees. Then, she says, CEOs can cultivate a persona, establishing those values that will drive the company, articulating a code of ethics.
The second year of a CEO's tenure can be even more challenging because this is when the change really gets binding and the stakeholders, including the board of directors, start to expect real, measurable results.
The CEO needs to demonstrate the company's new strategic vision, put stakeholders at ease - show them both financial results and a unified management team - and start to plan for the future.
The CEO also needs to demonstrate what Gaines-Ross calls thought leadership, something that "distinguishes and differentiates a company from its competitors... Thought leadership often breaks with business or industry convention, astonishes if not startles. Thought leadership reflects on the company and builds CEO capital."
Gaines-Ross ends the book with two appeals. The first is for a longer CEO timetable. B-M's research has shown that all stakeholders expect more of CEOs, and faster. But "the trend toward increasingly shorter CEO tenures is undermining business productivity and focus," says Gaines-Ross.
"Fewer CEOs seem to make it past the five-quarter mark and even fewer beyond their three-year anniversary. Such instability irrevocably and adversely affects a company's reputation and destiny. Chief executive departures have substantially adverse consequences, affecting too many employees, customers, partners, and investors." The second appeal is related, a call for a longer-term view.
This is substantial addition to the literature of our profession, a manifesto supported by compelling original research and informed by intelligent, sympathetic analysis. It is also a rare book about public relations that preaches not to the choir but to the choirmasters.
(The reviewer is Principal and Founder, Genesis Public Relations, India)
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on February 19, 2003
Immense credit must be given to Dr. Gaines-Ross who bravely and successfully takes on, notwithstanding the post Enron anti-CEO environment, the hypersensitive issue of CEO reputation. Yes, agrees Gaines-Ross, being a high profile, ego obsessed CEO is asking for trouble and is to be avoided like the plague. She refuses, however, to engage in the now fashionable tendency toward unrestrained CEO bashing, preferring instead a reasoned, astute and carefully researched analysis of the CEO's role.
While adding her voice to those who deride media hyped personalities, what she refers to as big "C" Celebrity CEOs, she cautions that old fashioned leadership is still desirable. When engaged in by talented CEOs, it may, indeed should, lead to the creation of an executive persona. Such a persona need not require media exposure and is entirely compatible with sound corporate practice. Such persona bearing CEOs are small "c" celebrated CEOs, who "by dint of strong leadership, discriminating vision, force of character and other admirable traits become celebrated by their employees, their industry, their peers, and occasionally (though not necessarily) even the media for jobs well done."
Gaines-Ross' book amounts to a much needed, intellectually honest warning not to let the anti-CEO backlash go too far. Refusing to jump blindly onto the anti-CEO bandwagon as have so many business pundits, she stresses that executive leadership is still necessary and if effectively and ethically rendered is something which should not be hidden under the rug but promoted openly. In pursuing the cause of sound, old fashioned corporate leadership, she lays out a roadmap, based on original research, on how CEOs may repair their reputations, stressing among other things the need to communicate internally, build a management team, develop a thematic stamp and a vision.
She deserves immense praise not only for her honest appraisal of the role of CEOs in today's business environment but also for presenting an immensely practical and useful format on how to lead ethically, energetically and effectively.
A major, original addition to the literature on leadership and reputation ... no doubt about it.
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on January 9, 2003
I sure hope for the sake of America's economy that CEOs wisen up. By reading this book, they and their advisors will go a long way in turning things around for us all.
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on December 24, 2002
A remarkably well written book that clearly establishes the steps necessary for CEOs (or any executive worried about their "brand") to maximize their value to the companies they lead. The book is filled with scores of practical do's and don'ts and provides invaluable lessons for anyone moving into, or sitting in, the CEO's office.
Most book introductions are stale and boring. Not this one. It tells a wonderful story about how the author became so interested in this issue, and personalizes why it is so relevant in today's times.
I for one, would feel much better about the companies I invest in knowing that their CEOs have read this book.
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on December 24, 2002
A remarkably well written book that clearly establishes the steps necessary for CEOs (or any executive worried about their "brand") to maximize their value to the companies they lead. The book is filled with scores of practical do's and don'ts and provides invaluable lessons for anyone moving into, or sitting in, the CEO's office.
Most book introductions are stale and boring. Not this one. It tells a wonderful story about how the author became so interested in this issue, and personalizes why it is so relevant in today's times.
I for one, would feel much better about the companies I invest in knowing that their CEOs have read this book.
0Comment|Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse

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