Strategic Management – Top Leadership

The word ‘celebrity’ is usually used for actors, sports stars, and musicians. However, in the modern era of mass media, some CEOs, such as Bill Gates, Richard Branson, Martha Stewart, and Donald Trump, have also achieved celebrity status.

CEO Celebrity – Pros & Cons

CEO celebrity is an intangible asset for the firm and may often lead to increased opportunities offered to the firm. Hiring or managing a celebrity CEO may grow stock price, enhance the firm’s image, and motivate employees and make other stakeholders content.

There are also disadvantages associated. Increased celebrity CEO status means the gaps between real and expected firm performance will be magnified. Moreover, if a celebrity CEO is unethical, wrong or illegal, chances are that the CEO’s firm will attract more negative media coverage which will raise problems.

Types of CEOs                 

There are various types of CEOs. The most common are the following −


Icons are the CEOs who possess both fame and high reputation. The icon CEO is attributed to the combination of style and substance in the performance of CEO’s job responsibilities. Mary Kay Ash, Richard Branson, Bill Gates, and Warren Buffett are Icons.


CEOs who have high relative fame but low reputation are called scoundrels. These CEOs are quite well known but at the same time, they are enough vilified. The late Leona Helmsley was a prototypical scoundrel.

Hidden Gems

Hidden gems are CEOs who do not have much fame but manage high positive reputation. These CEOs stay in relatively higher obscurity while managing and leading their firms to success. Their skills and competencies are known to those who are in their own firm or are competitors. An example of hidden gems type of CEO is Anne Mulcahy.

Silent Killers

Silent killers are overlooked and ignored sources of harm to their firms. The poor ethics or incompetence of the silent killers may be detected very late. It’s a fact that the silent killers are sometimes worse than scoundrels.


Has Tony Stark gone crazy? Tony Stark, CEO of Stark Industries, surprised his shareholders, employees, and the world when he changed Stark Industries’ mission from being one of the world’s leading weapons manufacturers to being a socially responsible, clean energy producer.

Celebrity Rehabilitation

For celebrity CEOs, their speech and acts can and often grab the front page of a national daily newspaper or popular prime time nightly news. Thus, they need to be much responsible and conscious about the implications of everything that they say or do in all situations. It is the responsibility of the CEO to maintain a high level of integrity and responsibility at all times.


Author Walter Isaacson quotes Steve Jobs saying of Gates in Jobs’ biography −

“Bill is basically unimaginative and has never invented anything, which is why I think he’s more comfortable now in philanthropy than technology. He just shamelessly ripped off other people’s ideas.” Gates tactfully rebutted the scathing comments (Kerns, 2011).

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