The paper highlights the strategic importance of being alert to the power of the language and words used by CEOs in their various communications – their CEO‐speak.
The paper employs a close reading analysis of several contemporary examples of one of the most significant genres of CEO‐speak – the CEO's annual letter to stockholders.
Four perspectives important for understanding corporate strategy are highlighted: the importance of CEO‐speak as a linguistic marker of CEO narcissism; the revealing nature of metaphors chosen by CEOs; the potential rhetorical potency that arises from the way CEO‐speak is framed; and the significance of cultural keywords.
Case examples, such as the close readings in this article, possess the strength of specific instance detail and interpretation, and the ostensible weakness arising from interpretation of small samples. But such research may provide for a reframing of conceptual perspectives and practical approaches.
The case examples and advice provided will help business executives and corporate stakeholders to monitor the quality of CEO‐speak, engage CEO‐speak more effectively for strategic purposes, and improve CEO text and leadership‐through‐language.
Readers are reminded of the power of CEO text, the benefits of subjecting it to greater scrutiny, and are provided with some practical, operational advice.
Amernic, J.H. and Craig, R.J. (2007), "Guidelines for CEO‐speak: editing the language of corporate leadership", Strategy & Leadership, Vol. 35 No. 3, pp. 25-31. https://doi.org/10.1108/10878570710745802Download as .RIS
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