Digitally branded chief executive officer

Thursday December 6 2018



Innocent Swai

Innocent Swai 

Why has the digital economy brought the most powerful, branded and celebrated CEOs? Brands have always done their best to survive. However, other brands have perished. Why? Could it be to do with cultural values in place?

In a way, any brand’s culture is managed by the CEO. That is exactly what happens most of the time. However, nothing is constant.

The digital transformation has introduced some fundamental changes that if not managed well, deep troubles keep happening. Look at our youngsters today; when they look at the CEOs the likes of Elon Musk, Mark Zuckerberg or Jeff Bezzos; they end up thinking that being successful is just about accumulating wealth at any cost.

Most of our learning institutions are not doing much about that. It has to change immediately. It’s time to borrow brilliance from other places where every undergraduate student is equipped to have the needed impactful behaviours from African cultural values rather than the quick fix self-taught entrepreneurship learning; which is about creating the next billion-dollar brand as it’s advocated all over. In the digital age, the Internet has made it so easy for anybody curious to learn and master anything s/he is passionate about. However, attitude change is missing for most of us.

Even in the thriving brands the CEOs have managed to accomplish a lot for the betterment of the society while others are struggling. If you go a bit deep, you will encounter issues to do with culture. Why is the culture game becoming a big problem today?

It has been said that when people acquire extraordinary powers, before being groomed; the side effects tend to be rather negative. Being Brand CEO today is the closest thing to being king of your own country.

We know history repeats itself as we can cite the way absolute monarchies became absolute tyrants, and unfortunately their senses of themselves become peculiarly blown up.

It is unfortunate that, most of the time; the more power an individual has, the less caring they become to the needs of the people around them.

Moreover, they become less inclined to seek out advice in making key decisions about their brands. Furthermore, the less likely they take any advice even when it’s provided with good intentions. Such brands become dormant and if actions are not taken they die. Is there a century old brand in Africa? Nope.

Leadership case studies from HBR have suggested that CEO’s in such situations are reluctant to facilitate critical communication from other individuals with less authority in making decisions. Eventually, other people around them give up trying to offer the needed support. Because such CEOs believe in their own hype, they end up becoming rock stars surrounded by a group of “suck-ups” Yes-Men. The quality of their decisions is affected because only good news is delivered while the other is hidden.

No constructive criticism. Beware, the more a CEO is idiolised, the more wary we must be.

It befallen the Uber CEO Travis Kalanick.

He was unwilling to right himself. If anything, his judgment deteriorated and it was the end of his career.

The only known key risk for employees and investors;, which is tied up to such brands’ ownership structures, is how CEOs managed to accumulate powers .entrusted to them.

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