Corporate executives over the last twenty years have become highly visible and influential on both the American and the global stage. Once they were relatively hidden to the general public and known only to their industry peers. Now, however, they are media stars and their views carry a great deal of weight in economic, political, and even cultural debates. They leverage the financial clout of their organizations as well as their own personalities to gain influence in areas far beyond their primary executive responsibilities in the organization.
Many if not most business managers yearn to be executives so they can make strategic decisions and run their own business or business unit. They are also attracted to the public attention and financial security that can accompany an executive position. This seems to be the new career goal of many business graduates now entering organizations. Clearly the rush of managers into technology firms, both start-ups and blue chip technology, has been partly due to their executive career ambitions, although the flood of available stock options was also an incentive.
Recently, however, a little business reality is settling into the economy. Executives are being turned over almost faster than they are being hired (Bianco & Lavelle, 2000; Charan & Colvin, 1999). There is less tolerance now for inexperienced or ineffective executives in either the technology sector or the rest of the business world. Many individuals are realizing belatedly that they are poorly suited or not ready for an executive position. Just recently a chief executive officer boot camp was started to help newly appointed chief executive officers get up to speed and to reduce the 20 percent annual turnover in chief executive officers (Symonds, 2001).
Currently there is widespread interest in executives, in what leads to executive success and failure, and in how organizations can build an effective executive team. The executive group in an