Best Buy#: CEO Joly branded before even beginning

A friend who consults with Best Buy passed along the following tidbit yesterday: “Everyone is jazzed up. New CEO (Hubert Joly) was at headquarters today (Minneapolis). Isn’t high visibility what leadership is about during times of distress?”

My sarcastic “does he have his work visa yet?” reply aside, the obvious across the board response is, “Yes!” The Best Buy case, however, is puzzlingly perilous. The company is essentially their own takeover target with behind the scenes efforts being led by founder Richard Schultz and private equity players. Shares are plunging based on sentiment that unless something changes the electronics retailer’s business model is done. Enter Joly, a the former head of Carlson Hospitality, the privately held travel and hospitality company that runs restaurants yet has nothing truly retail in the portfolio. Joly is immediately branded by media and analysts as a “surprise choice with no retail experience,” even though he has a proven track record turning around companies and increasing revenues.

Then in today’s news cycle we learn that Joly negotiated some handsome change in contract terms, which are standard at this level. So basically from a personal leadership and executive compensation point of view, heads Joly wins, tails he doesn’t lose.

But here’s the rub. Great managers and leaders at this level don’t do things solely for money. They take on opportunities where they think they can work hard and succeed. The ones who don’t have this motivation are usually the “chasing stars” flame-outs making headlines later.

Back to the company for a minute. There is so much in flux right now that the new CEO won’t be afforded the time to do long-term planning and execution to impact change. That’s an unfortunately reality that a lot of companies and firms face right now. Fear and uncertainty rule the day until something changes that can be believed in.

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