–Bloggers Name The Five CEO Phrases That Are Red Flags–

Bloggers would like CEOs to acknowledge the mistakes and excesses of corporate America to show that they are in-touch with reality, even if the CEO’s company has shown no bad behavior, according to a survey by the 10 company and Gotham Research Group, of prominent bloggers who cover corporate and business news.

“The bloggers we surveyed expressed a desire for CEOs—particularly those in the financial sector—to explicitly acknowledge the corporate excesses of the last several years, even if their companies were blameless,” says Dr. Jeff Levine, founder of Gotham Research Group.  “There’s something more authentic and relatable about a leader who can admit that mistakes were made.”

This recognition shows CEOs are more aware of what average employees and consumers are thinking, according to the bloggers interviewed.  Emotional intelligence is now seen as a crucial job requirement for any executive.  Almost any CEO statement regarding a shortage of financial resources for their company initiatives or lack of raises and better benefits for their employees is viewed with skepticism, especially if there is a perception that CEOs are inordinately well-compensated or receive large bonuses.  One blogger commented, “I hate it when they cry poor, and I know they just got a big bonus.”


Authenticity is a critical factor in CEO assessment

Perceptions of a leader’s authenticity play a critical role in the overall assessment of a CEO’s ability and performance, according to the bloggers surveyed.  CEOs perceived as “inauthentic” by bloggers were not only considered to be less likeable than authentic CEOs, but also thought to be less capable and less effective leaders.

Bloggers expressed a universal sentiment that CEOs who display any of the following traits are inauthentic by definition:



“Authentic CEOs are real.  They avoid corporate-speak and engage in a dialogue that is specific and honest,” says Clare DeNicola, principal and co-founder of the 10 company. “When a blogger is looking to speak with the person in charge, he’s looking to speak to the ‘person,’ not the ‘in charge.’  It can’t always be corporate jargon and unfettered optimism.”


While bloggers surveyed said that no CEOs are getting blogger relationships right today, the CEOs who were most often named as being authentic were Warren Buffet, Herb Kelleher and the late Steve Jobs.


Top five phrases that signal inauthenticity

Survey respondents identified the following phrases as red flags:





The report is based on findings from 10 one-on-one in-depth interviews with prominent institutional bloggers who cover corporate and business news for top-tier national, regional, and trade news outlets, conducted in December 2011.

the 10 company is a new strategic consultancy, based in New York, dedicated to helping C-Suite executives transform their businesses through authentic, results-driven marketing and communications. The 10 brand is backed by the 10 Tenets of Client Relationships, 10% Performance Pricing and a 10% Reinvestment Promise. For more information, visit www.the10company.com.

Gotham Research Group is a New York-based research and consulting firm advising corporations, non-profit organizations, government agencies, and electoral campaigns on issues of communication, reputation, and strategy. For more information, visit www.gothamresearchgroup.com.