Dale Buss

Dale Buss
Dale Buss is a long-time contributor to Chief Executive, Forbes, The Wall Street Journal and other business publications. He lives in Michigan.

Recent McDonald’s Ruling Could Upend U.S. Franchising System

McDonald’s was the immediate target of a stunning pro-labor ruling last week by the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB). However, the decision—in which the NLRB determined that McDonald’s could be held equally liable as its franchisees in labor disputes—has massive consequences for all franchise-based companies.

White House Nudges Large Firms to Speed Up Payments to Small...

Small to mid-sized enterprises (SMEs) are getting some help on an critical issue from a pivotal source: the White House. President Obama is coming to the aid of the legions of small business owners who have become frustrated over the last several years by the increasing tendency of large and even blue-chip corporations to slow down payments to their suppliers.

CEOs Weigh in on How to Fix a Troubled Company

Many of America’s biggest companies are struggling through some of the most difficult times in their histories—Campbell Soup, General Motors, Hewlett-Packard, IBM, McDonald’s, Procter & Gamble, RadioShack, Target, Wal-Mart and Whole Foods among them. But the most woebegone of all might be Sears.

Tracking the Pros and Cons of Increasing the Minimum Wage

The social and cultural drumbeat for higher minimum wages is picking up volume, but CEOs and business owners may want to listen to their own drummers on this issue.

Businesses Should Steer Clear of ‘Crony Capitalism’

Mid-market firms must have policies in place to ensure they are neither promoting nor bearing the brunt of governmental favoritism.

Tomorrow’s CEOs will be Increasingly Female, and will have Different Skills...

Although women’s overall share of this year’s incoming class of CEOs is small, the "2013 Chief Executive Study" by Strategy& shows that more women are rising through the ranks to the CEO position than did five years ago (3.6 percent vs. 2.1 percent, respectively). With 60% of all college students and 40% of all MBA students currently being women, by 2040, Strategy& says that women will represent one-third of the incoming class of the top 2,500 companies. The woman CEO of the future will also achieve the top position earlier than women do today, and will have a more diverse background, with communication skills increasing in importance.
“The woman CEO of the future will have a more diverse background, with communication skills increasing in importance.”
The report also found two anomalies: 1) That women are more likely than men to be hired from the outside rather than groomed from within, and 2) They are more likely to be fired than their male counterparts. These findings suggest that boards tend to take a higher risk on women, but those risks come with as many failures as successes. THE PATH TO THE CEO CORNER HP’s former CEO Carly Fiorina, Kraft’s Irene Rosenfeld, Campbell’s President and CEO Denise Morrison and Maggie Wilderotter, CEO of Frontier Communications (who is Denise’s sister), were all hired away from other companies. Xerox’s former CEO Anne Mulcahy, GM’s current CEO Mary Barra and IBM’s Chairperson and CEO Virginia Rometty were all hired from within. What educational paths are these women taking to get to the corner office compared to men? The top 10 Fortune 500 male CEOs attended state schools for undergrad. Not so for the women. HP’s current CEO Meg Whitman went to Princeton; Rometty, Northwestern and Rosenfeld, Cornell. Fiorina attended both Stanford and MIT. Of the top 20 female CEOs of Fortune 500s (based on revenue) today, nearly half (45%) do not have graduate degrees, while just 5% of the top 20 male CEOs don’t. In addition to seeing many more women CEOs a quarter century from now, Strategy& says that they will be greater connectors and greater communicators than they are today. To find the best CEO talent in the future, Strategy& suggests companies offer the broadest and deepest experience to a promising array of young people. “Focus on the deepening bench strength and special skills that future leadership of your company requires,” says Per-Ola Karlsson, Senior Partner of Strategy&. And, he says, seek out and cultivate women employees.

Companies Seeing Backlash Over Moving Their HQ Overseas

People get upset when a company seems willing to forget its roots out of mere financial opportunism. CEOs will have to consider the growing possibility of consumer and political backlash in the U.S. in the face of such moves.

CEO Health Should be Part of Ongoing Succession Planning Discussions

From Warren Buffett to Steve Jobs to former McDonald’s CEOs Jim Cantalupo and Charlie Bell, history is filled with precedent on this issue. Despite the trail of cases, however, there isn’t a cookie-cutter approach for how to handle these situations. The when, how and what to do next is often handled on an individual basis. Without a manual to follow, this can leave other CEOs and boards in a quandary about how to manage their own situation, should it arise.

Among the decisions that need to be made:

“Despite a wealth of precedent, there isn’t a cookie-cutter approach for how to handle these situations."
  • In what situations will a C-suite executive’s personal illness be disclosed publicly?
  • How far along will it be disclosed?
  • If disclosed, what will they say about it, and how often will they provide updates?
  • How will they reassure shareholders and other constituents if they don’t have a great prognosis?
  • At what stage should the board begin reviewing potential succession candidates?

In Dimon’s case, disclosure of his situation without details has led to speculation about the future leadership of the banking firm, as well as about the extensiveness of his illness.

Dimon said he voluntarily disclosed his cancer, that it was caught early and is curable, and that he has no intention of stepping down or even being sidelined to deal with it. Investors seemed to rally quickly to support his assessment, and, if Dimon is right about his road to a cure, the entire episode will likely amount to hardly a speed bump for JPMorgan.

But such situations no doubt can and have unfolded differently for other CEOs and companies. Apple co-founder and CEO Steve Jobs was much sicker from pancreatic cancer than the company or he let on before he died from it in 2011, no doubt because they wanted to protect the Apple brand and stock that was so tied in with Jobs’ own intellect and persona.

Many other executives have waited to go public until they could report good or better news, while other companies have made such disclosures only upon the CEO’s death.

“I think they either don’t want to admit they are ill because it will cause concern for the company, or … they don’t disclose it because they don’t have a succession plan in place,” Lex Perryman, a management expert at the University of Washington, told the Times.

“Dimon’s health scare should serve as a reminder to other CEOs and business owners to review both their internal policies, as well as their directors' and officers' insurance policies."

But mega-financier Warren Buffett, chairman of Berkshire Hathaway, disclosed in the spring of 2012 that he had prostate cancer. And former Intel CEO Andy Grove went public in 1996 about his own prostate cancer in a startling first-person essay in Fortune.

In any event, Dimon’s health scare should serve as a reminder to other CEOs and business owners to review both their internal policies, as well as their directors' and officers' insurance policies.

Nothing can create fears among corporate constituents about the company’s future leadership more quickly than disclosure of a crippling illness in the CEO. Because it can come on suddenly, such news can be much more damaging than, say, a garden-variety decline in job performance.

Illness is a by-product of life, and however difficult or emotional the conversation, the business issues surrounding the topic should be regularly discussed.


Conflict Minerals Are Creating Compliance Challenges

If you are one of 6,000 U.S. CEOs whose company uses raw minerals in your products, it's time to comply with the Dodd-Frank Act.

Should Other CEOs Follow Tesla’s Musk and Open Their Patents?

Elon Musk, CEO of Tesla Motors, has shaken up the auto industry again, this time by announcing that Tesla Motors will let other companies use its patents. The move has other CEOs wondering if this a strategy they would benefit from.
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CEO1000 Tracker

From the schools they went to to the types of companies they run, CEO1000 is tracking the trends among the CEOs of the 1,000 largest U.S. companies.


CEO Confidence Falls Again In May Amid COVID Crisis 

A survey of 300+ CEOs conducted in early May shows declining confidence in business conditions, even as economy reopens in many parts of the country and around the world. But there could be a silver lining. 
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Best and Worst States For Business

Are you looking to relocate or expand? Evaluate each state's strengths with Chief Executive's 2019 Best & Worst States for Business.


CEO of the Year

Once a year, we celebrate the achievements of a CEO, honored for his or her success in and dedication to business, shareholders and customers.


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