I was a little surprised to read this at the egonomics blog. (The blog’s a recent discovery it looks good.)
“You can’t ever suggest that any decision made by the chief executive in the past was wrong,” marketing guru Al Ries recently told us. “You can’t get to be a chief executive or a CEO without a powerful ego. And people with powerful egos will never, ever admit they made a mistake. How then can you sell a new strategy unless you can convince the company that their previous strategy was wrong? You first have to tell them that their strategy was ‘right for its time.’ But today, times have changed; therefore their strategy has to change. No CEO has ever told me that he or she has ever made a mistake.”
Assuming Al’s not been quoted wrongly or I’ve misunderstood the context, I have three responses:
1 This isn’t my experience of CEOs. I find them as multidimensional as the rest of us mortals.
2 Personally, if I were a CEO I’d be wary of taking advice from a consultant who professes a professional commitment to placating my ego.
3 I idly wonder if Al has reflected on whether there may be other explanations for his never having heard a CEO admit to a mistake.