So Your CEO Went Rogue! Now What?
Jack Dorey, Elon Musk, and Papa John are three CEOs who have been in the news lately for going rogue, impacting their companies’ profits and causing headaches for their board of directors. Jack Dorsey, the CEO of Twitter, has been criticized for continuing to give Alex Jones, the conspiracy theorist, racist, and Sandy Hook denier, a platform even after he as been banned from other social media sites like Facebook and YouTube. Elon Musk, the CEO of Tesla, tweeted that he would be taking Tesla private, sending its stock price into a tizzy and prompting an investigation by regulators. And John Schnatter, the founder and former CEO of Papa John Pizza, stepped down from his position as CEO after blaming lagging sales on the National Football League and player protests of police brutality of unarmed black Americans during the national anthem. He then resigned as Chairman of the Board after he admitted that he had used the word ‘nigger’ during a conference call with a marketing agency. Each of these men have made controversial moves, impacting the revenue of their respective companies which in turn impacts the interests of the shareholders. So, what is a Board Director to do when their CEO goes rogue?
While the board of directors of Tesla and Papa John have stepped in to reign in their rogue CEOs, there is little public news about what Twitter’s board is doing to counsel their CEO. As board members, these Directors have a fiduciary responsibility to act on behalf of the shareholders to make overall policy decisions and provide oversight. Put plainly, the corporate board of directors should make sure that the shareholders keep making money. It’s hard for shareholders to make money when the CEO is making policy decisions without the consultation of the Board and the stock price boomerangs with each uninformed public announcement. At a time when the CEO is going rogue, the board needs to come together to find ways to sanction or, possibly remove, a problematic CEO. Whether members of a public or private board, directors should take their responsibilities seriously to support, encourage, and ultimately steer any CEO in a way that will best benefit the mission of the organization and serve the shareholders.
For more information on board governance and board diversity, follow along on Twitter or Instagram. Nikki McCord is the founder of McCord Consulting Group, the only choice for organizations looking to energize, innovate, and diversify their Board of Directors.