Fresh Look – Two routes to executive performance

A new study demonstrates that CEOs have two paths to their organization’s success: humility and vision.[1] Humility requires that they eschew narcissism and be active feedback seekers. Rather than expressing bombastic charisma, they exhibit a sense of calmness and inquisitiveness.[2]…

Fresh Look – Senior Managers who suck up

A new study draws back the curtain on executive political shenanigans that few of us directly witness.[1] Sucking up to bosses is common at any level[2], but when it is practiced by senior managers toward the CEO, it has troubling…

CEO aspirants: work on your external network

An exhaustive study of the attributes of CEO candidates who are selected for the job shows that social capital is absolutely critical.[1] That is not particularly surprising for those of us interested in office politics, but there are several interesting…

Senior managers and symbol management

By virtue of their power, status and visibility, executives are highly scrutinized. Their actions are carefully noted and their words are meticulously analyzed. Every accomplished executive knows this and leverages it by managing symbols. They realize that how they dress…

The combination of being a celebrated CEO and having an MBA

…is deadly from an ethics perspective according to a recent study.[1] The authors looked at celebrated CEOs who had received laudatory cover stories in top national business magazines. Those of them who had MBAs pursued costly growth strategies, demonstrated an…

Mergers among equals

In my last year of teaching (2013), I asked my MBA students what political issues they were facing. Guess what surfaced as the most important? M & A. Many of my students were experiencing politics around an acquisition. If mergers/acquisitions…

How sponsors politically support projects

It is common knowledge the success of a project depends on whether an executive actively supports the effort.[1] We also know that senior management sponsors rarely have enough time to manage projects personally, so they must rely heavily on project…

If you’re a smart ass, beware of elites.

Employees who act up and speak out may be viewed by coworkers and even direct supervisors as “wise guys,” nonconformists who regularly violate peripheral norms of conduct but still do their jobs. Some even enjoy considerable power for their ability…

Getting narcissistic CEOs to be philanthropic

CEOs invest in philanthropic endeavors because of the attention and external adulation and flattery that are likely to ensue.[1] Their posture cannot be described as strategic philanthropy in the sense that it advances stakeholder interests.[2] Rather, it is done to…

How do underperforming CEOs avoid dismissal?

A study that looked at this question concluded that a CEO’s best insurance is to accumulate a large number of directorships in other corporations.[1] Such directorships offer status, and increased status is the key to keeping your job in this…