Wall Street Journal Features Dean Freeman in “The Experts”

in Dean Freeman, News
March 13th, 2013

Dean joins exclusive group of thought leaders tapped for in-depth online discussions

The Wall Street Journal recently launched an online portal called The Experts, an “exclusive group of industry and thought leaders who will engage in in-depth online discussions” through video chats and short online posts in response to timely questions.

Fellow featured thought leaders include Siemens CEO Eric Spiegel, Professor Rosabeth Moss Kanter of Harvard Business School, and Bernard Yeung, Dean of the National University of Singapore Business School.

Dean Freeman recently responded to the question, “What do you see as the most important thing leaders can do to spur innovation at their institutions?

Leaders need to make it acceptable for employees to challenge the status quo in their companies. We very often become so committed to sustaining our current book of business that we consider activities that are not directly linked to it to be a distraction. Create skunk works to enable creativity and new ideas. Provide seed funding and protection for those that think unconventionally. Reward failure and learn from it.

Dean Freeman also weighed in on the query, “Do you think companies spend too much money hiring ‘superstar’ CEOS from outside their ranks?

The issue isn’t about cost, it is about capability. The board’s primary role is selection and evaluation of the CEO. Each company situation and each CEO is different. Providing a one-size-fits-all solution as suggested by the study makes no practical sense. Lack of talent is a common complaint in virtually every company. Every board should ensure that a strong pipeline of internal candidates for CEO succession is in place, and at the same time consider external candidates when it is time to put a new CEO in the role.  Select the candidate with the best collection of skills to perform the role, keeping in mind that we know much more about the leadership characteristics of internal candidates than those coming in from the outside, even those that are viewed as “rock stars.” Pay competitively in every instance, keeping a singular focus on the CEO that has the highest probability of successfully creating long-term value. The performance of the leader selected is what will count most–setting the strategy, creating the culture and achieving exceptional results–not whether they came from inside or outside the company.

Read what Dean Freeman and fellow experts are saying about the latest topics for the Wall Street Journal.