In a recent interview with McKinsey & Company in April 2014, Richard Edelman used the term “chief engagement officer” to describe a Chief Executive Officer’s (CEO) new role, when discussing how today’s leaders can regain public trust. Rather than merely formulate policies, CEOs must step forward, meet communities both internally and externally, establish personal relationships, and genuinely listen to people’s concerns. I cannot agree more!
CEOs and their organizations are naturally linked together. CEOs, especially those who are also founders of their organizations, define corporate DNAs such as corporate character, mission, goals, purposes, culture, and values. For example, consider Apple’s innovative and ruthless culture under Steve Jobs and Facebook’s ‘hacker’ culture under the leadership of Mark Zuckerberg. From a public relations perspective, CEOs serve as the “face” and spokesperson of their companies, shaping their firm’s corporate image in the eyes of their external constituencies. Moreover, as the top leaders and symbols of power within an organization, CEOs can support and participate in communication programs, set the tone for internal communication, and create communication systems that can be managed effectively.