A group of three motivators, whose work includes executive coaching, business management consulting and formulating creative approaches for changing organizations, weighed in on a discussion topic asking if the negative perceptions some Americans have about chief executive officers as being greedy and incompetent is fair and when the CEO label can stop being a “dirty word.”

The participants, with PhDs in various fields, gathered this week at a Global conference sponsored by the Milken Institute, a Los Angeles-based think tank which has a mission is to help leaders in business and public policy identify and implement ideas to create broad-based prosperity.

The institute highlighted quotes from the participants on Saturday in a news release about the forum, with the panelists discussing the need for chief executives to seek a “higher cause” for their companies, addressing the issue of pay disparity between CEOs and front-line workers, and hold themselves and their firms accountable to a higher standards.

The 80 minute discussion is available online at the Milken Institute’s website:

Panel presentation: CEO: How Will It Stop Being a Dirty Word?


Sir Ken Robinson - a speaker and consultant who has devised and implemented creative strategies for change in consulting work with government, education, culture and business.

Dr. Oren Harari - a consultant, author and professor of strategic and global management in the Graduate School of business in the University of San Francisco.

Dr. Marshall Goldsmith - an author, executive educator and coach.

Rafael Pastor, Chairman of the Board and CEO of executive performance company Vistage International

From the Press Release:

What do current CEOs need to do to regain credibility and salvage their reputations? That was the question Pastor posed to the panel.

“CEOs need to adapt their policies for something bigger and deeper than simply market capitalization and earnings-per-share,” said Harari. “There needs to be a departure from generic corporate mission statements and a resurgence of genuine commitment to a higher cause.”

Goldsmith added, “CEOs can no longer accept 300 or 400 times higher pay than their front-line employees. Also, they must seek out confidential feedback, publicly apologize for any bad behavior and insist on accountability checks for themselves and other company leaders.”

Pastor also posed the question: How can CEOs change their behavior after years of the “status quo” being acceptable?

“For a lot of people, the word ‘corporation’ is the problem, as the general public associates it with greed,” said Robinson. “CEOs need to change not only their own actions, but also the ideals of their corporations. They need to hold themselves and their companies to a higher standard.”

Pastor closed the panel by asking Robinson to address education for current and future CEOs.

“There’s a high correlation between higher education and economic productivity,” said Robinson, “yet currently in America there’s a 30 percent high-school dropout rate… We need to better address these issues and develop moral, educated leaders from all walks of life. That diversity will aid future generations of CEOs not only in improving productivity, but also in innovation.”