Close this search box.
Close this search box.

Would a CEO Make a Good President?

In an online column Chief Executive asked why CEOs are largely underrepresented from the ranks of political leaders, particularly those seeking the presidency (Mitt Romney notwithstanding).

I agree that most CEOs would not make very good presidents. You point to one very important reason: Most CEOs are used to having their instructions followed where in the political arena, they could easily be undone. The games are fundamentally different. Not only are the rules of the game different but so are the fundamental leadership skills.

We know in business that different leadership skills are required for companies in different life cycles. For example, a great turn around manager rarely makes a great growth executive. A start-up entrepreneur often is replaced by a professional CEO once the company reaches a certain stage of growth. Why would we expect that a great CEO can be a great political leader if a great CEO in one environment will be a lousy CEO in another?

And to make the point from another angle, consider why there are very few CEOs who take over the reins of leading academic institutions. Different games require different skill sets.

Norman Wolfe
Quantum Leaders
Irvine, Calif.

Do CEOs make good presidents? No. They are “temperamentally unsuited.” That dispensed with, I must have a bit of fun with you and Steve Forbes on the Smoot-Hawley Tariff. When I was a kid in the ’50s, I recall reading about three great mysteries:

1. Why did Queen Victoria have so many hemophiliacs among her descendents? I remember one article that theorized a hit on her ovaries from a cosmic ray; I don’t think it was tongue-in-cheek. Cosmic ray?! She was married to her first cousin!

2. What happened to Hitler? Is he alive in South America? I have no idea how the accounts of those in the Bunker took so long to come out in this country, nor why it was ever a mystery. It isn’t anymore.

3. What caused the Great Depression? The Smoot-Hawley Tariff has been tediously recited by generations of clueless teachers. A few years ago, I read an article citing statistics on the money supply during the period beginning with the stock market crash of 1929. The author argued that the stock market crash, in and of itself, wasn’t that damaging. But it set in motion a series of events that decimated the money supply, and that caused the Depression. I found that argument more compelling than the *&^%*^ Smoot-Hawley Tariff.

Jeff Wick
Wick Building Systems
Mazomanie, Wisc.

It’s About Customers

I could not agree more with Bob Donnelly’s column on CRM (CE Online, October/November 2007). I have been fortunate enough to have had three wonderful firsthand experiences with customers laying out their problems. Two were ignored by the company I worked for; one we listened to and built a dominating business. Once one gets in tune with the customers, it is amazing how clear they are in telling you where they want you to go (product-wise). There is a close corollary for start-ups, which is that one must accept that everything will change as one learns more about customer needs; however, one better be in the game.

Dave Powell
Austin, Tex.


  • Get the CEO Briefing

    Sign up today to get weekly access to the latest issues affecting CEOs in every industry
  • upcoming events


    Strategic Planning Workshop

    1:00 - 5:00 pm

    Over 70% of Executives Surveyed Agree: Many Strategic Planning Efforts Lack Systematic Approach Tips for Enhancing Your Strategic Planning Process

    Executives expressed frustration with their current strategic planning process. Issues include:

    1. Lack of systematic approach (70%)
    2. Laundry lists without prioritization (68%)
    3. Decisions based on personalities rather than facts and information (65%)


    Steve Rutan and Denise Harrison have put together an afternoon workshop that will provide the tools you need to address these concerns.  They have worked with hundreds of executives to develop a systematic approach that will enable your team to make better decisions during strategic planning.  Steve and Denise will walk you through exercises for prioritizing your lists and steps that will reset and reinvigorate your process.  This will be a hands-on workshop that will enable you to think about your business as you use the tools that are being presented.  If you are ready for a Strategic Planning tune-up, select this workshop in your registration form.  The additional fee of $695 will be added to your total.

    To sign up, select this option in your registration form. Additional fee of $695 will be added to your total.

    New York, NY: ​​​Chief Executive's Corporate Citizenship Awards 2017

    Women in Leadership Seminar and Peer Discussion

    2:00 - 5:00 pm

    Female leaders face the same issues all leaders do, but they often face additional challenges too. In this peer session, we will facilitate a discussion of best practices and how to overcome common barriers to help women leaders be more effective within and outside their organizations. 

    Limited space available.

    To sign up, select this option in your registration form. Additional fee of $495 will be added to your total.

    Golf Outing

    10:30 - 5:00 pm
    General’s Retreat at Hermitage Golf Course
    Sponsored by UBS

    General’s Retreat, built in 1986 with architect Gary Roger Baird, has been voted the “Best Golf Course in Nashville” and is a “must play” when visiting the Nashville, Tennessee area. With the beautiful setting along the Cumberland River, golfers of all capabilities will thoroughly enjoy the golf, scenery and hospitality.

    The golf outing fee includes transportation to and from the hotel, greens/cart fees, use of practice facilities, and boxed lunch. The bus will leave the hotel at 10:30 am for a noon shotgun start and return to the hotel after the cocktail reception following the completion of the round.

    To sign up, select this option in your registration form. Additional fee of $295 will be added to your total.