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Time to Read: 1-2 minutes
Did you dismiss last month’s news as “not my industry” or “couldn’t happen to me?” CEO, Ron Johnson’s ouster, following a 12-year stock low, has all the dimensions of my work with leaders: ethics, board/executive relationships, decision making, strategy, and more. As an aside, one of my cherished summer jobs was a fashion merchandising internship at JCPenney’s flagship store, at the Richmond Mall in Cleveland.
In summary, the $50 million price tag to woo Ron Johnson, the ‘rock star’ of Apple Stores, didn’t quite work out. Johnson led the 111-year old, retail icon JCPenney, into a 51 percent stock nosedive within 17 months of his hire. The embarrassment and damage to the reputation and brand of the company, employees, and customers, along with Johnson’s own legacy, is a business leadership tragedy.
10 Important Takeaways from JCPenney’s Ron Johnson Era:
1. Sometimes “New” isn’t better, improved, or even a good idea, just new.
2. Don’t screw around with pricing, products, or anything unless you’ve tested it for your customer’s ‘seal of approval.’
3. The entire board needs to be ‘in one accord’ when selecting, supporting, and managing a CEO (existing or new).
4. Beware “Best Practices” - Leading is leading, but industries, companies, and markets have nuances a CEO must discover and exploit for success (JCPenney ain’t Apple, everyday clothing ain’t Macs).
5. Being rich, famous, experienced, young, old, or in-charge doesn’t mean you can’t do dumb things.
6. Ultimately customers will dictate whether or not you succeed.
7. Sometimes small changes are better than big ones (think: people, products, business models, and everything else).
8. Pick your battles when considering transitioning (doing things differently) and/or transformational (doing different things) strategies and tactics.
9. Before you take a job, you must respect the company, its history, its customers, its people, and its potential, not just your vision or self-gain.
10. No matter how smart you are seek advice from trusted advisers, not “yes men.”
It is sadly refreshing to see a CEO lose his job over good old fashion incompetence and fit, rather than an ethics violation. Johnson proves status and strategy failure can happen to any/all of us.
Much of our work in recent years, has been helping executives through difficult, high-pressure times of uncertainty where regaining the fire, re-learning skills in order to transition to new opportunities and situations is critical. We’ve been there too. We’ve helped others. We can help you or your leaders….call us at (858) 638-8260 or visit www.wolfmotivation.com.
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