Women as CEOs: The Problems and the PromiseTech Trikes
An interview with IBM CEO Ginni Rometti, conducted earlier this month by Walter Isakson on PBS, is worth watching. Ginni is one of the most successful CEOs in the United States. One question that sprung on me was why the number of female CEOs has declined.
I have followed many female CEOs over the years. Most of the people I followed have failed, as they were both ineligible for the job and their boards did not return them. In many cases, the board and CEO seemed to be in conflict, or the board did nothing.
Those failures have led to the perception that female CEOs are a bad bet. However, I believe the real problem is that boards are not doing their job – especially with female CEOs. You see, I think women make better CEOs than men, but only if they are trained and supported, and often do not.
I explain and then close the week with my product: Jaguar iPass, which I finally got for a test drive!
CEO of Psychopathic
I think there is a spatial CEO problem, and it is not simple. One aspect of it is that we like psychiatrists as CEOs, which I don’t think anyone likes. Many of them – Intel’s latest CEO was a case in point, have a tendency to go down in flames for power misuse. Lack of empathy in a leader, whether male or female, is not a good thing. Instead of favoring this type of personality defect, I think we should work aggressively to get this defect out of the race.
Yet we do not test for this when selecting top officials, meaning that a lot of people who swim for the top, man or woman, do not have much in the way of sympathy. Lack of empathy has resulted in some truly unfortunate decisions.
I believe that both former HP CEOs Carly Fiorena and Meg Whitman demonstrated trends consistent with this problem. Fiorina announced what was then the largest layoff in HP’s history, and during the same period HP expanded its fleet of limousines (Maybach) and its private jets, both of which were used almost exclusively by Fiorena. The result was that in the end, no one hit his back, and the company effectively fired him.
Whitman’s behavior became most apparent when he ran for California governor in 2010. When she found out that her house maid had entered the country illegally, she fired her – and then blamed her rival for taking that action. The homeowner was a woman who had been with him for years, and he kicked her out without regrets (and lost the Hispanic vote and the election in the process).
I think it’s particularly problematic for women that we expect women to be more sympathetic then men, and yet because we favor a lack of empathy, we tend to beat the very behavior of which The requirement will be at the top. In return, both men and women take the psychopath to the top of the heap, where they painfully fail. Because there are fewer female CEOs, it is my belief that we focus on physical difference rather than problematic behavior.
I argue that the failures were not due to the gender of the CEO, but to his personality defects, lack of relevant training, and lack of significant board support.
IBM is one of the few exceptions where CEOs are drafted quickly with rigorous levels to suit job responsibilities. Two of the most successful CEOs currently on the market at Tech are IBM’s Ginni Rometty and AMD’s Lisa Su, both of which have gone through this aggressive program. The program monitors and evaluates executives moving forward and usually requires time as CEO support to get them job sense.
A typical new CEO has almost no clue what a job is, and has many skills that make him consider working against him while he is in the job. An example is self-promotion and forfeiture of debt.
When you move forward in a company, you need to make sure that your achievements are visible so that you are high on the list for promotion, especially when you are in management.
However, as a CEO, you automatically get credit for that company, and successful CEOs become very good at promoting their people and sharing credit, because it results in loyalty. Given the breadth of the job, loyalty is critical to CEO success. Put differently: If you can’t trust your people and they don’t trust you, then you will fail as a CEO.
Take Marissa Mayer only. She was certainly a talented and capable manager, at least when she was at Google, but as a CEO of Yahoo she failed miserably. I contend that this was because he lacked the skills to manage a media company (which was not Google) and had no visual training to become CEO.