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Taking down a peg 

“Some critics are concerned about the way the CEO-as-hero is evolving into the CEO-as-saviour,” notes the Financial Times. I should think they are. Just as the idea of a heroic CEO was always nonsensical, so the saviour role is absurd. Fortunately, so low has the reputation of CEOs sunk (too low, but it’s an understandable reaction after years of being too high) that I don’t think the public will wear a situation where the CEO is the poacher turned gameskeeper.

The same analysis in the FT reckons there is very little chance in the near future that leaders at major US corporations will give up their dual role of CEO and chairman. According to Ira Millstein, the problem is one of prestige: “without the chairmanship they would feel as though they had been demoted”.

Most other countries follow the practice of splitting the roles. But US executives do have an argument when they point to the comparative performance of US versus non-US corporations. Over the years, the US record is generally superior. But drastic times may call for drastic solutions, and I think it’s hard to argue that concentrating power in one individual is the reason for US outperformance.

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