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CEOs Take Center Stage in the New Political Regime

CEOs have a critical role to play in reordering politics, fixing the parties, returning to the public square and working in the interest not only of business, but of the country at large.

8 / Stick to your knitting. Even as they get involved more broadly, CEOs must also be careful not to get distracted from their most important role. “The CEO’s job is to focus on the company, its future and long-term, sustainable value creation,” reminds Williams. “So in most instances, it’s unwise for the CEO to be viewed as a political operative of either party.”

“We need to re-engage as business statesmen, rise above our parochial interests and work in the interests of the nation.

Some CEOs believe that their peers should simply stay out of Dodge altogether. “If I were competing with other CEOs to bring a new wave of technology to market, I would love for them to spend a lot of time in Washington,” says T.J. Rodgers, founder and former CEO of Cypress Semiconductor and a libertarian who didn’t vote for Trump Odlandor Clinton. “Instead, they should stay at home; hire good people; bring excellent technology to market; and dominate the market. Serve it well.”

Nevertheless, more CEOs seem to be willing to go where only outlier peers such as Starbucks’ Howard Schultz and Silicon Valley’s Peter Thiel have gone before: out on a limb. Many would like to boost what Odland calls “business statesmanship.”

“Business leaders have withdrawn from the public square over the last decade or so and are dealing only with their lobbyists,” he says. “We need to re-engage as business statesmen, rise above our parochial interests and work in the interests of the nation.”

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