It can be lonely as the CEO because there are so many stakeholders. Very often, one of your most important stakeholders is your shareholder, and they don’t have a present advocate, so to speak, inside the building. Your CFO probably comes closest to being your partner in that. But, oftentimes, that concern for the shareholder really rests with the CEO. Now, the risk is that you become shareholder-focused at the exclusion of other critical stakeholders.
So, the value chain that we talk about here at PSEG is “Let’s focus on the employee.” Because that employee has to have the skills, the culture, the mindset to deliver what the customer needs.
If you don’t satisfy that customer through your employee, then, oftentimes what the CEO is left with — in order to satisfy shareholders — is cost reductions. And then, as you start making cost reductions, short-term usually, to improve your relationship with your shareholder, and that means you can no longer invest in your employees and that your capital plan for growth requires that investment.
So, now you’re asking your employees to be even more heroic in satisfying the customers. Sometimes that doesn’t work right, and the employee views this as a downward spiral. They’ll see greener pastures, and that’s usually not your underperforming employee seeing the pastures. It’s your talented employee who could do that. So, you get into this downward spiral.
I would say to the CEO that if you want to satisfy your shareholders, start with your employees because that will lead to a better relationship with your customer, which will produce the fruits and benefits that your shareholders are demanding.