The requirements at CEO level don’t grow vertically – they grow exponentially. The CEO is uniquely positioned and more importantly accountable and empowered to ensure three things – things that no one else but only the CEO can do and must do. It requires awareness, intent and conscious action. It is nobody else’s job!
Most of the advice that one comes across when one is crowned CEO is oriented towards giving directions on how not to mess up. Peter F Drucker – the maverick management guru’s insights on the role of a CEO are invaluable.
There are 3 things that only the CEO can do:
1. Play the inside-outside game
The ‘inside’ refers to the organisation.
CEOs are rockstars. As faces of the company, they have a great stake in defining ‘a meaningful outside’ which may vary at different life cycle stages of an organisation.
Linking the organisation (the inside) with the meaningful outside (which could be technology, society, economy, markets or the customer) requires a CEO to identify and focus on what results are the most meaningful.
2. Trade-off right
This one is the ‘to-be-or-not-to-be’ decision.
CEOs are constantly challenged between balancing present and future, between growth and consolidation, between what is and what could be – all the ‘between’ decisions. This comes more out of experience than base facts.
A CEO’s job is not a solo act – it is a collaboration.
3. Building the organisation EQ
An institution is the lengthened shadow of a man.
It is up to the CEO to develop the culture, shape values and set standards. This is the genetic code of the company or the operating system. This is the most important job.
CEOs are challenged on several accounts including many-a-time by internal stakeholders’ demands – to break free of this last one (the inside gravity) requires navigation skills which come only with experience.
The listed three areas should receive conscious and the greatest attention of a CEO. In majority of cases they do not!