I was reading Ted Matthews' newsletter today. In it he discusses why CEOs need to be the chief brand officer for the company, embodying in their actions the promises that the brand fulfills.
Ted points to Clive Beddoe, CEO of WestJet, the Canadian version of Southwest, and in fact modelled on them. Clive's staff were caught with their hands in the cookie jar of competitor Air Canada's computers, checking their secret pricing and flight load data. More than a few times. It's not that they got caught that is the problem -- its that Clive didn't come clean when he found out about it.
Regrettably, he was one of the best, and I've heard this from WestJet flight attendants, in between their constant smiling, singing, joke telling and general good hosting. A client of mine once saw Clive saying hi to passengers and busing the plane as he walked down the aisle to the bathroom.
I have thought for some time now that the CEO's longest term work is to create a culture and organization that can fulfill the long term goals of the company. And brand is really part of that, isn't it?
There are lots of stories of CEOs who left their organizations with their reputation in tatters. While thousands of people in these companies strive to make things happen every day for customers, for much less remuneration than accords a C-suite executive. It must be devastating for them when these things happen. Another good reason to take the CBO, CCO role seriously.