Growing a company from 5 million in sales to 1 bn. USD took Mark Sebba 11 years. As CEO of fashion website net-a-porter.com he retired this August. A very special welcome was created for him on one of his last days in the office. It was filmed and quickly gathered traction on YouTube. The video clip demonstrates: Sebba has fans.
Which leads to the question:
Do CEOs need fans?
Every top-class performer in sports, politics and arts tries to increase her fan base. Why do we see very few CEOs thinking about their stakeholders as fan base which should be nurtured and grown?
I see 3 interesting PROs and 2 big CONs.
Lets start with the CONs.
- Fans don't live behind closed doors. Either live or televised, fans are part of the live performance. As Kaan Turnali from SAP says, the fan experience is 'opening our nerve endings'. Very few company stakeholders are part of a nerve-wracking negotiation and can watch the CEO fighting.
- Fans are not fans of the football club management (players and trainers have fans, but they are not primarily responsible for the club's financial results).
Here come the PROs.
- Fans are in it for the long run. They made a decision for you and stick with you. They are always present. Fans are at your side in times of victory and celebration. They are at your side in times of injury and transformation.
- Fans support you in hard times, they suffer for you. Fans believe in you regardless of your actual performance and therefore provide an emotional cushion which helps you to recover faster.
- Fans are to celebrate, they make every victory sweeter and bigger. Fans know the hard work behind every victory and cherish your path towards success.
Having fans doesn't come for free.
Fans are demanding. Fans need proximity (or the illusion of proximity). Fans need to see you fight and improve.
Ask yourself if your employees would welcome you in the office like Mark Sebba - now or in the future.