What caught my eyes today was this headline “Jeff Bezos Leaves Enduring Legacy As He Steps Away As Amazon CEO” as I was glancing over the news screen. One for the fact that Amazon has become a household name today, and another for that this was a high-profile exit to pursue new futuristic business ventures, philanthropy, and other endeavours. And it is not uncommon to see such top-level exits, but they always trigger a lot of curiosity among the stakeholders and often impact the share price of the company globally.
Why does it matter to have a founder member remain for a longer period steering the company ship? Why is it seen as important for charismatic leaders to drive their businesses? Why do stakeholders strongly relate their entities with those captaining them? How does a course correction of this kind affect the company’s corporate journey and its business relationships? How would this impact common men and women in some way associated with corporates in similar situations? Why are these issues of massive importance for all stakeholders?
Most often such leaders are transformational stories for the brand they build. They engineer turnaround by sheer vision, exceptional execution abilities including technical expertise & human relations, and deliver highly valuable, mammoth organizations to the public. They have an exceptional ability to see beyond what is obvious and are willing to explore innovations, new practices, policies, methods, and techniques to create something extraordinary in their domains.
While the captain is always at the helm, there are strong team members to support his endeavours, dream, vision, and corporate culture. It is the cohesiveness of a strong team that leads the organisation to glory. In any transition, when another senior-most member takes charge of a situation of similar kinds, he is expected to believe in and carry forward the vision of his predecessor.
Challenge is always to communicate the newcomer’s credentials in such a way that with the passing time stakeholders stop missing the charisma of the one who has stepped down. Of course, it is not a story of managing perception only, business must perform as usual and continue to deliver value to all its stakeholders.
Corporate communication people often battle similar situations that are baffling to most in a corporate environment. It becomes important to anticipate, visualise, foresee, predict, imagine, and think about impending after-effects of such situations for the organisation. It requires meticulous planning in terms of communications, messaging, and its delivery.
Even more because it is not always that such high-profile exits are bad for the organisations. What is required is to have a look into the future, evaluate the hierarchies, look at the succession planning, the potential, abilities, and achievements of the new leader. Next is to communicate them in an effective manner reaching out to all stakeholders proactively and reactively if that is necessary.
Managing situations of this kind often take years and not months when companies get a new face for themselves. If the business runs as usual, continues to grow, prosper, expand, and proliferate the impact on the image of the company and its new face is generally positive. Establishing that the vision of the predecessor has been carried through well without affecting the corporate performance itself is a strong confidence-building measure for the stakeholders.
Sustained communication, the quality media exposure for the new captain of the ship, development of goodwill, and a strong & positive association with the company in question can mean a lot in turning away any negativity of perceptions.
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