I think I am a little late (January 2007) on an interesting McKinsey article in their online journal. The article titled “CEOs as Public Lead roers” is about the greater role that CEOs are playing in sociopolitical issues of the day. I was particularly intrigued by the reasons given by CEOs for not taking the time to address public issues.
Among those executives who do play an executive thought leadership role, the main obstacle cited is lack of time. A large seven out of 10 (71 percent) report that time is a major barrier. Among those CEOs who play no role or some role in addressing public issues, lack of time is also at the top of their barriers list (50 percent).
What was interesting was that only 25 percent of those CEOs who play a public role cite fear of negative publicity for themselves or their company. Contrast this with 44 percent of CEOs who play no role or some role in publicly addressing important societal issues. It is unfortunate to think that fear of negative scrutiny and attention prevent leaders from tackling some of the greatest sociopolitical issues such as education, health care and public policy.
Many company reputations will only be enhanced in years to come when executives take leading roles in society. How CEOs stand up and stand for something important will safeguard reputations and secure their stature within their industry. Sorry to think that the world will miss out on great thought leadership for fear of publicity that is most often fleeting.