Many CEOs strive to create an impression of a favourable “tone at the top” through the language they use in communications with company employees and external stakeholders. Annual letters to shareholders, for example, are important in communicating the attitudes, values and behaviours of a CEO. Their readers are alert for language-related signs that CEOs exaggerate their proficiency, their ability to command events and their claims of success.
The importance of a CEO’s language should not be underestimated. It can help reveal the mindset of a CEO and help explain management policies and practices. However, care in language use is important because narcissistic, pretentious or inappropriate language has harmful consequences.