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Peeling away the layers of a great CEO

By Denzil Doyle

In my last article, I discussed the tendency of key stakeholders in a high technology company to call for the CEO’s resignation at the first sign of trouble, particularly if the CEO is a technical person who lacks “business management” experience. The pressure for change is usually strongest from the financial community. My advice to a board of directors that must deal with such pressure is to remain focused on the qualities that any good CEO must possess regardless of his or her background, namely leadership, management, technology knowhow, and marketing knowhow.

I cited the example of Ken Olsen, the founding president of Digital Equipment Corporation, who came under severe criticism from Wall Street for turning in a bad quarter shortly after the company went public, despite the fact that he had built a company with sales of over $100 million in less than a decade. (That was the equivalent of over $1 billion today.)

Ken decided to go to New York and address his critics directly. He started with a lecture that went something like this:

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