Being CEO or a vice president of a mega corporation once promised to be a secure, high-paid retirement cushion. No more! If CEOs, VPs, business unit managers, plant managers, and even first level sales managers don’t make their numbers, they’re history. And, we all have to make our numbers in a politically and culturally correct way. This is part of the new Brand U business message.
Recently, the CEO of Delta Air Lines was at the top of the US business heap. There was only one problem. The executive was ‘too hard-nosed for his own good’ according to a front-page article in the Wall Street Journal. He was promoted on his ability to deliver on his promises to transform, reengineer, and cut fat throughout the organization. He did an excellent job based on the old cost-cutting paradigm. But when the prevailing paradigm changes, the Brand U person adapts or accepts the consequences.
Allegedly, he went too far and was a victim of his own success. Delta had been the preeminent US airline carrier with a legendary history of exceptional customer service. Problems arose following the Delta transformation. Employee morale tanked. Customer confidence and service tumbled. Pilots, flight attendants, and mechanics lost confidence in Allen. Delta’s board heard the messages and acted. They eased Allen out.[i]
[i] Brannigan, Martha and White, Joseph, “So Be It: Why Delta Air Lines Decided It Was Time for CEO to Take Off,” Wall Street Journal, May 30, 1997, p. A1.