CEOs who are hated

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I saw a great article earlier this week, listing large tech company CEOs who are most hated by their employees, based on their approval ratings. The article is available here.

My first reaction was, "who cares?" A CEO's job, after all, is to work for the owners, not the employees. If s/he delivers value, who cares what employee approval ratings are?

On reflection, though, I realized that my attitude was wrong, beyond my not wanting to work for such a CEO. First of all, the best execs for whom I have ever worked, defined as most successful at delivering value, have always been strong leaders who command respect and high approval of their employees.

The reason for that is that a CEO cannot deliver value alone; the CEO depends on their organization, their employees, to delight customers, to innovate, to create and grow value. If the employees do not approve of the CEO, it is really hard to get them to deliver the value.

And, indeed, if you look at the list of top (or bottom) CEOs, they are not only reviled by their employees, but hated by their customers. AT&T Wireless? AT&T? Motorola? AOL? Verizon? Microsoft?

There is a direct line connecting inspired and motivated employees and happy customers, and a direct line from happy customers to revenues, profit and shareholder value.

Alienate your employees at your risk.