What Every CEO Must Learn From Hosni Mubarak

Hosni Mubarak showed up nearly an hour late to his own funeral. The announcement of his address today created extraordinary expectations. Millions of Egyptians streamed into the late night cold to watch in collective celebration. Mubarak instead effectively delivered nothing. After a stunned hush in Liberty Square, the demonstrators' angry shouts drowned out the balance of his speech.

After initial disbelief, there is a growing belief among analysts that Mubarak and his advisors are completely isolated from the actions on the streets of Egypt. It would be easy to dismiss this as a tone-deaf act of a dictator who has lost connection with reality. However, all too many CEOs, insulate themselves with advisors who think alike and act similarly tone deaf toward their employees and customers.

Here are some examples:

  • The prevalence of customer "loyalty programs," which are so restrictive that they enrage customers when they attempt to use them.
  • Company-wide announcements that are hyped as major and important but after raising expectations only make simply incremental changes.
  • Media announcements of growing profits and revenues that are met with internal hiring freezes and encouragement for even more 'productivity increases.'

Employees and customers don't have to go to extraordinary lengths that Egyptians have to create change. They just leave.

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