You can run, but you cannot hide…as a C-level executive you can bob-and-weave, spin with the best of them, delude yourself by inhaling your own smoke or just hide out in the corner office. However, it’s only a matter of time until your ruse is uncovered as you will eventually be held accountable for what you know and what you do (or perhaps what you don’t know and don’t do). I’m always amazed at the number of senior executives that are completely out of touch with what’s truly going on in their business. In today’s post I’ll examine what appears to be a trend of a growing number of disconnected and out of touch executives…

Over the years I have observed executives that understand very little about the actual realities of their businesses. I have witnessed executives that measure and analyze little or no data, executives that analyze the wrong data, and executives that just don’t care. The only thing worse than an uniformed executive is one that doesn’t care, and in many cases, they are one and the same. I am starting to see an alarming trend where executives are busier trying to keep their job than they are in actually performing the duties of their job. The flaw in their logic seems so obvious and bizarre to me because if they would simply do their job they would in fact keep their job…

Given that C-level executives are often the most highly compensated individuals in the business world it seems only reasonable that they would be totally in sync with the pulse of their companies. However, study after study shows that this is clearly not the case. In a recent survey conducted by a New Jersey consulting firm in which more than 300 executives in the United States, Europe, Asia and Africa responded the following alarming results were found:

  • 81% do not know the cost of a customer complaint.
  • 75% do not know the cost of acquiring a new customer.
  • 60% claim they do not deserve their customer’s loyalty.
  • 51% claim their company does not deliver unique and beneficial products or services.
  • 50% do not know their organization’s annual customer retention rates.

In yet another recent survey conducted by WebTrends in which more than 250 Chief Marketing Officers were polled, only 4% of respondents rated themselves and their staffs as “experts” on web marketing trends, strategies and technologies. My question is this…If your CMO doesn’t understand digital marketing then why are they your CMO? You cannot become tier-one talent without possessing subject matter expertise in your domain. Executives need walk the talk by investing themselves in their business, their staff and their customers and spend less time “playing” executive. One of the first things I do with all my clients is get an understanding of what they know, what they don’t know, contrast that with what they need to know and then to develop a plan to close any gaps. My job is to assist my clients in becoming the best at what they do and this doesn’t happen without commitment, knowledge and focus.

Bottom line…senior executives need to step-up or they should step down. If you are a senior executive and you don’t have complete control over key metrics related to your area of responsibility you’re wrong…As the old saying goes, “you can’t manage what you can’t measure” and as I like to say “you cannot improve what you don’t understand to begin with”.