Modern Day CEOs Seem To Care More About Public Opinion Than Success

Credit: TechCrunch / CC-BY-SA 2.0/ Flickr

Andrew Wagner

Recently three CEOs discovered that nice words won't protect them from the harsh realities of running a business.

Over the past week, three CEOs who attempted to display their idealism were hit hard by the reality that they represent corporations and all the scrutiny that comes with it, according to The New York Times.

Adam Neumann, former CEO of WeWork, claimed he wanted to "elevate the world's consciousness," Devin Wenig, former CEO of Ebay, claimed her wanted to "make a bigger difference around the world," and lastly Herbert Diess, CEO of Volkswagen, spoke of climate change stating that "we owe it to our children to find the right answers."

Unfortunately, over the past week, their idealism didn't help them out. Adam Neumann stepped down as CEO after his attempt at an IPO failed. Devin Wenig left as CEO after Ebay's board grew fed up with the company's poor performance. And Herbert Diess, was charged with stock market manipulation and misleading investors, but somehow managed to remain CEO of Volkswagen.

Business have become more involved in social and political debates and seem to have forgotten that their main objective is to make shareholders money. CEOs are more worried about inspiring employees, contributing to the fight against climate change, and moral issues than monitoring profit and loss statements.

“Companies, and by extension their management teams and their C.E.O.s, have a moral obligation to try to be a force for good,” Dan Schulman, the chief executive of PayPal, recently said. “I don’t think there’s any way that we can shirk that responsibility, and I don’t think there’s any way to fully stand away from the culture wars around us.”

"You have to deliver performance in your business,” Mr. Schulman continued stating that C.E.O.s can change the world too, but have to remember they have an obligation to deliver to investors. With the longest bull market in history, it has been easier to sneak by as an underperforming C.E.O. as long as you have a strong moral compass. As volatility and uncertainty fog the future of the global economy, C.E.O.s would be wise to remember their job description.

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