Denouncing the Personality Cult – About Nowadays Leaders and the CEO Cult

Lars Wiechen, Partner-in-charge, Financial Advisory, Deloitte Bulgaria and Romania

Jack Welch and GE. Bill Gates and Microsoft. Mark Zuckerberg and Facebook. We naturally credit the success of a multi-billion business with hundreds of thousands employees to one single person. We love our hero, the creator who forges a company from a strong vision, with braveness and charisma. We stand on the sidelines and cheer with fervor as the messianic figure rises in to revive
a dying brand.

From politics to the business world, from the average individual to high profile
celebrities, people tend to succumb to the phenomenon of the personality cult. However, one’s longing to be adulated and praised is only matched by another’s desire to blindly follow and worship.

The term “Celebrity CEO” has been around since the beginning of the 20th century, initially describing industrial barons such as Henry Ford, or John D. Rockefeller. In recent years, the public eye focused more and more on the corporate world, with emblematic figures brought down by scandals, or charismatic political leaders vanishing almost overnight. Moreover, careers became more malleable, as ambitious executives can now branch out into anything, from television to politics, or sport.

Finally, in the current era of mass and instant media, celebrity CEOs have
become more prevalent and visible, with self-perception and self-esteem becoming tied to the attention received on a daily basis through social media - attention that even the greatest kings, conquerors, or other prominent figures in history, could only dream about.

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