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Michael Maccoby

Michael Maccoby

Michael Maccoby is an anthropologist and psychoanalyst globally recognized as an expert on leadership. He is the author of The Leaders We Need, And What Makes Us Follow.

Define 'great CEO'

When baseball pitchers are rated for a Cy Young award, the voters all know the relevant measures of performance: won-lost and era records. The voters for Academy Awards are free to express their aesthetic judgment. However, there is no accepted criteria for rating CEOs.

The market measures them on the value of the company's stock, but as Warren Buffet has shown time and again, some stocks are undervalued and others are overvalued. Another measure, the increased net income for a year is a trailing indicator that does not tell us how well positioned a company is for the future. Neither stock price or the bottom line indicate the talents and attitudes of the people who are the heart and soul of the company. Nor do these measures tell us whether the CEO's definition of results is limited to the bottom line or whether it includes the development of employees and the company's contribution to the common good. Is the company's purpose just making money or is it to make a profit by contributing to the well-being of customers, communities and the environment?

Even if we were agreed on a definition of results, it would still be difficult to rate CEOs. Unlike pitchers, they are not all playing the same game. Businesses are in different markets and face different challenges. CEOs work in contexts that are not comparable. So if we insist on rating CEOs, let's agree on the definition of good results and then rate CEOs by size of company and type of industry.

By Michael Maccoby

 |  December 16, 2009; 3:44 PM ET
Category:  Leadership personalities Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   Del.icio.us   StumbleUpon   Technorati  
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