Why are CEO’s No Longer Trusted?

I read a survey recently which stated that since the Coronavirus crisis hit, CEO’s trust ratings have plummeted. Mind you, have you met Dave from Tesco? Yet, terrifyingly enough, just a few months ago the same survey revealed that companies were more trusted than politicians (kind of a low bar) and the media (kinda no bar).

It seems that Coronavirus exposes people to a special little nano virus that not only attacks our lungs but also forces us to reveal who we really are. More warts than all. Politicians, of course, become total f***whits, while the media reminds us of the meaning of vanity (I mean who in friggs name stays on air from home all red faced and bleary eyed while self isolating with the Corona) and, it seems, CEO’s are all about optimising….., well, really just one thing – their bank balance.

Sadly neoliberalism created this convenient scam which makes it legit for EVERY CEO to be focused on one thing and one thing only – making them the money. Yep, neoliberal for ‘SHOW ME THE MONEEEEEYYY!!’. Placing the passion for great products, customer service and inventions on the scrap heap named Wall Street – all too easily bus chucked in the name of Warren stiffin Buffett. And think about it, do you really want to be Warren? Don’t get me wrong, I don’t mean his cash which is handy for Bill and Melinda, I mean him? Think about it.

Maybe it no longer needs to be that way. Maybe Corona won’t just kill all of us, more importantly it will kill neoliberalism. It’ll nuke the greedy ass CEO. Make a Dodo of Warren. Still wanna be Warren?

And maybe then we’ll be clear to start again, to find a post capitalist model where every CEO follows a new path, a better path, you know, where they become Jacinda Ardern. And more than that maybe the new new CEO will be a fusion of Jacinda, Trevor Noah and James-I’ll-drive-you-anywhere-so-long-as-you-crack-out-some-nice-ass-tune-Corden all mixed up with a smidgen of Charlie Chaplin. Empathy and ethics combined with humour and slap stick. With more slap than stick and no slap and tickle cos that’d be more like Harvey boy Weinstein and look how it worked out for him.

Maybe the new CEO school should teach leaders that so long as they always put people first then profits will follow. No longer profits first in the vain hope that people might follow. And putting people first means making them laugh, or cry, or just talk. You know like Oprah did. Where CEO’s leave the finances to finance people, the data science to data scientists, leave the engineering to engineers, the marketing to marketers, the backhanders to politicians and just focus on the people. Actually, even more than that, by treating customers and employees as ACTUAL people. And treating them like people means treating them like a close friend, a bestie (just not in the Harvey Weinstein kinda way).

Where it’s the done thing to treat colleagues as actual, real life friends. Where you get your advice from Joey or Rachel instead of McKinsey or Bain and where not everything is in the name of business but where it’s about the mates (again, just not in a Harvey Weinstein kinda way). Where the new business hipsters are about making the friends to make money and I don’t mean a new season of Friends though that would be nice too.

Imagine if reopening post Covid-19 lockdown meant fewer employees dragged into shitty offices, wharehouses, factories or foosball halls (thanks Google). Where the office politics gets kicked into touch. Where Jerry Maguire was right all along and fewer customers with deeper relationships really is the best way forward. Where the new company bubble means we get to generate a bit less less money while becoming lots more successful.

Where we get to spend more time enjoying empathy, ethics, humour and the sheer dream of one day finally hitting the pub again. Where every day on the job is fun and fruitful, emotional and valuable, loving and luxurious. Just like a day on the set of Baywatch. Where all of a sudden everyone’s your friend and they visit you all the time, you know, to make sure they also get on the set of Baywatch. Where it’s like grabbing a drink with your best buddies, not drinking the cool aid but swigging real alcohol and speaking it like it is. Yep, where every day’s another Guinness ad.

So, as we reopen, think about replacing the word customer or employee with ‘friend’. Ditch the customer toilet signs or customer loyalty programmes cos its anyones bathroom and friend loyalty. It’s the friends cafe and friend parking. Where the only new office layout you’ll need to research is the set of ‘Friends’. Where its couches and weird leather chairs and kitchens and cafes and terraces. Where you show up every day just for the laughs. Where customer ratings soar cos they’re from friends like they were last time around, just more legit this time. Where you get to write a new script every day. Where people show up cos they want to. Where Chandler finally feels truly at home.

Now that really would be a new norm. That might even be worth breaking out of lockdown loonies, donning the hazmat suit, getting back on a train and actually showing up to work for.

Where do I sign up?

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