Wednesday, January 18, 2006

Communications as Reason for Departure? Huh?


Today's Wall Street Journal (1/18/06) reports that Hyundai Motor America replaced its CEO with a new CEO. One of the reasons quoted in a statement that the Journal was obviously privy to was to "enhance communications." The Journal went on to say that Hyundai wanted "better communication at the CEO level with the U.S. office." Mr. Bob Cosmai steps down and Mr. Ok Suk Koh steps up. The change in leadership was apparently a surprise.

I have two reactions. First, it is not often that executive communication becomes a reason for a CEO exit. We usually hear about poor earnings, slowed growth, misstatements, poor handling of a crisis, financial irregularities, etc. Trust me, if they had asked me about what CEOs need to be good at today, I would have told them that effective CEO communications is an absolute must. Our research has repeatedly shown that internal communications from the top is a prime driver of favorable CEO and corporate reputation. CEOs do not have to be charismatic communicators but they do need to be open and motivate the employee workforce.

Second, I went to the Hyundai Motor America Web site to learn more about the unexpected switch and found no mention. Tried the Hyundai international Web site as well and found no clues. Seems that for a company using executive communication as a reason for a sudden changing of the guard, Hyundai's communication with its stakeholders would be forthcoming. The last news release on the U.S. site was January 10th,"Hyundai Azera Named Best New Luxury Family Sedan."

I guess I should be happy just knowing that enhanced CEO communication is getting its due.

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