Forget all the blather about how companies love their customers. It’s just talk. I’m convinced that 90 out of 100 organizations simply tolerate customers. Their customers represent only a means to profit, and that message comes through loud and clear to those callers all too often.

Five recent examples from my own experience illustrate the point all too well:

Auto-Responders That Fail to Address My Issue

the ceo magazine, leadership qualities,
Paul J. Zak, PhD, Professor, Claremont Graduate University

Fear or love?  At the most basic level, these are a leader's choices when seeking to motivate followers. Most managers, perhaps due to some hangover from the eighteenth century, lead by fear because, well, it works. Fear may not be explicit, though some managers still scream and yell, but it is often implicit in the "do this or you're out" approach.

Today, we hear a lot about seemingly squishy leadership approaches like "empathy," "humanity" and even "love."  Many business leaders I know would be happy to be Mr. or Ms. Nice at work but they have a feeling that this leadership style is not going to get the job done.  Or, at least that has been the prevailing wisdom.

Ask any small business person about the challenges they face and at least one of them will be access to capital. In simple terms M-O-N-E-Y. Often no one wants to lend you money when you need it. When you don’t need it, everyone wants to lend you money. Another issue is the paperwork and complexity to apply for loans. When I needed cash to launch my business, I started in a pretty traditional way. I took stacks of paper and went from bank to bank. It was time consuming but I did get the loan. That first loan was under $100,000, typical for small business.

the ceo magazine, innovation,
Chuck Saia, CEO, Deloitte Risk and Financial Advisory

Disruption isn't just a buzzword. It's a legitimate concern on the minds of the executives I meet with.

There are a lot of reasons organizations can be disrupted—innovation, technological advances, policy changes, to name just a few. But if executives can foster a culture of courage and alter their strategy, there’s an opportunity to change the business model and the path forward. Organizations can take proactive steps and not only avoid being disrupted, but also become the disruptor in their industries.

That’s exciting.

the ceo magazine, CMO,
Tom Hogan and Carol Broadbent, Founders, Crowded Ocean

Virtually every industry has some version of the saying: “You want it fast. You want it cheap. And you want it good (or of high quality). Pick any two.” That saying applies to one of the most valuable and strategic positions on the executive staff today:  the CMO. And it also explains why everyone from venture capitalists to corporate recruiters refer to quality CMOs as unicorns (as in impossible to find).

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