The CEO superstar — asset or liability?

Posted 08.25.2008

Superstar ceo As John McCain’s television ads about Barack Obama being the "biggest celebrity in the world" imply, there is often a skepticism about people who become "too big." As far as leadership in the corporate realm is concerned, the skepticism of celebrity appears to be justified.

A fascinating study by Ulrike Malmender and Geoffrey Tate, economics and finance professors respectively at UCLA’s Anderson School of Management, tells the tale. The professors tracked the performance of companies who won a CEO award from publications such as BusinessWeek, Financial World and Forbes between 1975 and 2002. What went down? Stock price and return on assets. What went up? CEO compensation and outside board memberships. Oh yeah, one other thing went down — the average CEO golf handicap.

Even though most of us won’t end up on the cover of BusinessWeek, Forbes or Fortune any time soon, the spotlight on the executive level can lead us to think we’re celebrities in our own little corner of the world. What do you do to keep yourself grounded and your performance high? We’ll be sharing best practices with readers over the coming weeks.