I have a complicated relationship with Dr. Leslie Gaines-Ross, the world's most dogged student of CEO reputations. The love comes from the fact that she's the world's most dogged student of the confluence of CEOs' reputations and corporate reputations.
Dr. Gaines-Ross conducts and collects research that agrees with my belief that the human beings who run organizations are largely responsible for corporate reputations, good and bad—and should be.
So I consider her an ideological ally, and I've made her Reputation Xchange one of my recommended blogs.
But our relationship hasn't gone any deeper than that, because I have trust issues with someone who can bring her fingers to type consecutive half-truths like those Gaines-Ross spouted on her blog last week.
In wrapping up the results of her own recent study—which yielded less-than-newsworthy findings like, many current senior executives would like to be CEOs someday despite the widespread contempt in which corporate bosses are currently held—Gaines-Ross concluded:
good news is that our next generation of CEOs appears eager to sit in
the corner suite and for the right reasons (making a difference,
growing business and meeting the toughest challenges of the day). CEOs
have their work cut out for them but I think we will see reputation
recovery in due time. In fact, when we asked when we’d see CEO
reputations redeemed, it looks like 2013 is the year. Mark it on your
calendars. I did on mine.
So status, power or wealth no longer motivate would-be CEOs. Instead, these days people want to be CEOs for the very same reasons one might want to join the Peace Corps or start an organic farming co-op or teach school in the hollers of West Virginia.
And furthermore, we're to trust these Cub Scouts when they predict, without any evidence or even reasoning, that CEOs will be held in higher esteem by American society in 2013.
Look, I understand: A researcher can't release survey results with the headline, "Future executives as full of b.s. and unfounded optimism as current old fools on high stools."
But neither does one have to say exactly the opposite of what one knows to be true.
Dr. Leslie Gaines-Ross, keep doing your research, keep studying CEOs and corporate repuations—but also: Keep it real.