Issue: National news article portrays CEO as a wild card and tone deaf. Reporter takes pot shots at private equity holding company through his reporting. Holding company may attempt to sell acquired company soon and unfortunate publicity is not helpful.
Background: The CEO holds himself out to be a genius and irreplaceable. Although considered smart, innovative and bold, his ego is unchecked and is, at times, an obstacle to operational excellence.
Holding company should spend more energy at the initial stage of a company’s purchase laying the foundation of a healthy balance of power between holding company and the acquired company’s leadership. The new company should be advised that with its purchase comes accountability. Situations that reflect unwillingness to be held accountable should be dealt with swiftly and with certainty. The longer it takes to establishes this healthy dynamic, the more entrenched the new leadership will become and, therefore, the more energy it will take to make a correction.
“We bought your intellect, your creativity, your knowledge of the company and of the industry, along with your business acumen; we did not buy your ego. Leave it at home. We own you now. You represent our brand and we owe a duty to our investors to see that not only do we make them money but also that our brand is enhanced by the purchase and the eventual sale of this company. If you could have been successful on your own, we would not own you now.” But say it with a smile on your face, of course.
Specific Take Away: All employees must get prior approval to speak publicly and use written talking points pre-approved by holding company. No exceptions.