The 2016 election campaign has focused the nation’s attention on the future of the President of the United States as the commander-in-chief and both leader of the free world and keeper of the flame on the nation’s reputation.
There is a definitive link between the reputation and profile of a leader/CEO and the reputation of the organization or company. Here are some leaders and/or organizations to watch in 2016:
Matthias Mueller, Volkswagen CEO
Named Volkswagen CEO in September in the aftermath of the emissions scandal, Matthias Mueller travels to Washington next week to meet with Environmental Protection Agency chief Gina McCarthy. The trip follows the January 4 civil lawsuit filed by the U.S. Justice Department against the German automaker. Volkswagen faces a long and rocky road to reputational recovery.
Roger Goodell, National Football League Commissioner
The Christmas release of the Will Smith movie, “Concussion” reignited the controversy over the league’s safety record. The long-running debate will not go away until Commissioner Roger Goodell bolsters and publicizes efforts, such as its Heads Up Football partnership with USA Football and Head Health Initiatives, to make the game safer, especially for young players. At risk: the NFL’s enviable profitability.
Marissa Mayer, Yahoo CEO
Activist investor Starboard Value SP stepped up its fight with Yahoo, threatening a proxy fight unless CEO Marissa Mayer and an unspecific number of directors are ousted. Its January 6 letter to Yahoo’s board was the first time that Starboard demanded the firing of Mayer. Starboard wants either a new strategy, sale or restructuring of Yahoo. Mayer plans to announce details of her own streamlining plan with the February 2 release of Yahoo’s 2015 financials.
Pope Francis, Roman Catholic Church
Pope Francis’ high-profile trip last year to the U.S. made international news and provided a robust communications platform for his social justice message. The 79-year-old pontiff will have an impact on the U.S. presidential election following his three-day trip to Mexico during the first-half of 2016, which will feature a visit to the U.S. border. Francis said his interest in helping migrants enter the U.S. is among his reasons for the Mexico trip. The Church will continue to be dogged by declining membership in developed nations and how to expand the role of women.
Mary Barra, General Motors CEO
As the No. 1 U.S. automaker solidifies its financial comeback, CEO Mary Barra is looking to its future via a $500M investment in the Lyft ride-sharing app. GM and Lyft will work on developing an on-demand system of self-driving cars. They also will establish short-term rental hubs. GM’s investment is part of Barra’s plan to position GM in the next-generation mobility market and serve as a hedge against the potential of declining auto ownership.
America Inc., Presidential election
The 2016 presidential election holds the potential to transform America’s political establishment if either “outsider” Donald Trump or Ted Cruz wins the Republican nomination to run against Hillary Clinton, the expected Democratic standard-bearer. The election will be one of the most divisive, nasty and expensive votes in U.S. history. A Trump or Cruz victory could trigger long-term political chaos in the U.S. and overseas.