Tony Hayward: A Fall Guy Made In The USA
CEOs must recognize “the inextricably intertwined roles of symbolism and substance in the office of CEO today,” said Jeffrey Sonnenfeld, a senior associate dean at the Yale School of Management.
Sonnenfeld was referring to Tony Hayward, the BP CEO who has been strongly criticized for his apathetic handling of the oil spill disaster. Since he hasn’t been able to impress the sensitive American public with his ‘all business, no emotion’ strategy, Hayward has had to suffer the wrath usually experienced by public figures in the U.S.
He didn’t understand why Obama had to claim the he had to kick somebody’s A$$ and feign anger around the Oil Spill, because, the American public somehow got the idea that Obama did have the power to prevent the spill and stop it instantly by kicking A$$.
As a result of his lack of PR skills, Hayward will most likely be forced to step down in the next 24 hours. Does it make sense? No. In the lands across the Atlantic, it is safe to say that Hayward’s behavior wouldn’t have cost him his job. That’s because there are realistic expectations there. You do a good job or you don’t. End of story. In America apparently, in order to become president of a company, you also need to be a media-trained celebrity.
According to the Wall Street Journal, he was successful as a financial officer.
“BP has said that Mr. Hayward’s cost-cutting drive—$4 billion in reduced costs in 2009 alone.”
Hayward’s fault was that he didn’t play the game. And for that, he will suffer. Although, we can presume he won’t suffer too much. BP has to appease the influential American public now and although they may not want to part with Hayward, they will make sure his severance package reflects their sentiments.
It’s a good reminder for all global leaders to not only get a master’s in business administration but also in public relations.