Organizational Design

How to Reinvent Your Company’s Top Job

CEO CHALLENGE

It is not uncommon for a long-time leader to grow weary of the top job, particularly if the path to get there has been relatively quick.

Take for example this CEO, who had been in his position for six years and found himself really stuck. He loved the company and the business, and enjoyed 60% of what he did. But it was the other 40% that was driving him crazy.

He found himself losing patience with people. He was bored with the same old problems and the lack of new challenges. The always-extensive business travel was beginning to wear him down, and he found himself dreading board meetings, believing board members to be far too operationally focused and not strategic.

Meanwhile, the competition was heating up and business results were beginning to suffer. Clearly, this could not continue.

CEO MISTAKE

This CEO had a tendency to follow the model “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.” And while most would realize immediately that the old adage no longer applies in a highly competitive and challenging marketplace, it also doesn’t apply to one’s career.

Because the business had been doing, until recently, very well, the CEO just kept on doing exactly the same job he had always done.

Furthermore, he had a habit of using his executive team as a sounding board, regularly venting to them about the parts of the job he didn’t like.

Believing not much could be done, the CEO was losing motivation to address the issues at hand.

CEO SOLUTION

When you get stuck in your job as a leader, it’s time to figuratively fire yourself from that job and create a new one. Sounds crazy perhaps, but see how this can play out.

In this case, the CEO was a member of a peer-sharing group and he asked for some advice. One of the other CEOs explained how she had been in a similar situation and had developed a list of the 40% – those activities that were dragging her down as well.

Her strategy had been to go to her executive team and asked them to step up and take on most of what she regarded as dreaded activities.
Much to her surprise, there was a lot of excitement and enthusiasm from her team to support her and relieve her of what she really didn’t want to have to do any more.

As a result, she enthusiastically redefined her role with a focus on three key activities:

  • Developing a new strategy to deal with the increased competition;
  • Creating an “execution” culture throughout the organization to drive action; and
  • Attracting, retaining and developing talent to ensure successful strategy implementation.

From his peers, the CEO in the job crisis learned that it’s common to feel stuck at times and that the journey to reinventing his job could not only be relatively straightforward, it could be positively invigorating and was absolutely necessary.

 

This article from Business in Vancouver Sept 4, 2012
Business in Vancouver (www.biv.com) has been publishing in-depth local business news, analysis and commentary since 1989. The newspaper also produces a weekly ranked list of the biggest companies and players in a wide range of B.C. industries and commercial sectors, monthly features and industry-focused sections that arm its subscribers with a complete package of local business intelligence each week.
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