With the announcement by of his impending retirement as Microsoft’s CEO, criticism of his leadership and legacy has already begun.
One criticism suggests he was more concerned with defining Microsoft for the investor, not the customer; more about the company returns and less about delivering solutions to the marketplace.
Fair criticism or not, it is a good reflection for every organization to ponder.
Questions corporate leadership should reflect on might include:
Does scale tip more for the investor or the client?
What role does the customer play in our marketing efforts?
Does our company communicate and deliver solutions to the needs of our clients?
Is it easier for management to motivate and retain employees when the focus is on the customer or the investor?
Is it easier to develop and maintain long-term relationships with customers or investor is emphasized?
If the scale leans towards providing customer solutions, is the narrative defined, understood and valued by everyone in the company?
In the end, can a company survive with investor value trumping customer satisfaction? A great example of this is the 19th century railroad barons who defined themselves more as monopolizer of railroad lines and routes rather than a transportation solutions provider focused on the every-changing needs of their customers. They’ve survived for another century but are they not a shell of their former selves. Say hello to Henry Ford.
Frequently reflecting and possibly redefining the solutions narrative must be the responsibility of every CEO. If done well the profits will come.