Should a CEO Be ...


Financial Times

I’ve been considering this question since August 22, 2011.

That’s when The Financial Times column, “Chief Googler’s ‘amazing’ clichés are dull and void” appeared.

Lucy Kellaway took Larry Page to task for his poor communications on the Motorola acquisition.

Channeling high school biology, she dissected the following statement from Page phrase by bloody phrase:

“Together, we will create amazing user experiences that supercharge the entire Android ecosystem for the benefit of consumers, partners and developers. I look forward to welcoming Motorolans to our family of Googlers.”

Look, no one is going to mistake Mr. Page for Faulkner.

But do dull language and clichés leave him wanting as a leader?

I don’t think so.

We ask our leaders to be real.

By all accounts, this is who Page is and how he communicates.

It’s easy enough to find past articles with Page calling out the “Googlers” of the world so it stands to reason he’d extrapolate Motorola into “Motorolans.” In fact, one could argue there’s even a literary dimension, playing off “The Last of the Mohicans.”

I suspect even Ms. Kellaway would acknowledge you don’t have to be an effective storyteller to succeed as a leader.

Hello Bill Belichick (Ms. Kellaway, he’s the head coach for the American football club called the New England Patriots).

No one doubts Page’s brilliance.

Will he inspire the troops – I’m sorry, I mean the Googlers – to greater heights?

Will he deliver the X factor to land and keep extraordinary talent?

Will he make the right calls on issues that depend just as much on instincts as hard data?

Obviously, these questions can’t be answered less than a year into his CEOship.

I do think it’s likely that Page’s communication skills will evolve over time similar to Bill Gates who came to recognize his public persona impacted the Microsoft brand.

We’ll see.

Note: You can find more on Google’s communications in the post, “Storytelling Techniques Behind Google Announcement on Larry Page Named CEO.”

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