Posts tagged ‘CEO’
Every so often I think about succession planning. My own. But I’m not planning on leaving. I’m planning on sharing. Let me explain.
I’m thinking that a lot of CEO problems are caused by people who think they can do a huge job well, all by themselves. Up till now, our company has been small enough that I could do a credible job myself. But as we grow bigger, I find it makes much more sense to work with someone else as sort of an extender. If it was on a shelf at the supermarket it would be called CEO Helper. I prefer the term VisionMeld(tm).
So how do you find someone to share? Role-Based Assessment to start, for sure, but I think asking the candidate to write a Vision Paper really should be part of every recruiting process.
The Vision Paper is a way of explaining to the leadership team of an organization what it is that they are expected to accomplish, the purpose for the venture. It does not go into precisely how they to achieve it since that isn’t a problem for the CEO to solve alone. It begins with a bit of the history behind the product or service and goes on to simply describe the end, the goal or the long-term, desired outcome for the organization. Where most mission statements are vague and general, the Vision Paper is personal. It’s the best measure of the ability to be an inspiring leader I have ever seen. And the knack of inspiring and motivating others to follow your dream is the sine qua non of the successful CEO.
I asked a friend what he thought. Ever practical, he concurred and pointed out that it’s a way of getting to agreement as to what the performance expectations will be. “You’re just trying to find someone who can do the job. To lead a company successfully, you need to know where you’re going and the Vision Paper is your roadmap,” he said.
I guess I’m just more mystical than he is. For me, the energy that goes into writing a Vision Paper reflects back on the author in an almost magical way. If it resonates, you probably have a good basis for a VisionMeld(tm) – and for sharing and succeeding.
If the economy isn’t improving, neither is the stuff of the headlines. Downsizings are bad enough: some can’t be helped and some are probably long overdue if the company is to achieve adequate productivity. It’s the ones where the golden parachutes are opening and nothing’s trickling down the food chain that sadden me. And of course there’s always Bernie Madoff. And Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich. And the suicides – German billionaire speculator Adolf Merckle the latest. Gordon Gekko must be chortling in his celluloid grave.
Arrogance, greediness, fear – oh my! The lions and tigers and bears that threaten to bring our world to collapse are on the prowl.
They are a cycle because they are cut of the same cloth: the greedy denial of reality, the arrogant illusion that you are the only one of importance in the world. You can’t have the infantile arrogance and greediness without the fear that leads to worse and worse decisions. And the evidence says it’s rampant in what e think of as our leaders.
Arrogance, greediness, fear: it’s always a down cycle when these rule. The things that go bump in the night reside inside. Time to out them.
Dear President-elect Obama,
Welcome to the ranks of Chief Executives, those of us, large and small, at whom the buck stops. I voted for you, not just because I agree with so many of your values but because you have a compelling Vision. And that’s what it’s going to take to get this enterprise called the USA back on track. Like any other CEO, I’m also here to offer my advice, based not only on my own experience but that of those CEOs whose companies we’ve worked with. I’ll keep it short and sweet, just the big three.
- Keep preaching the Vision. People are starved for inspiration – they’ve been operating at a deficit for years.
- Keep an equal concern with the inside of your company and the outside – what you probably think of as foreign and domestic relations. This is one world but don’t be like the shoemaker whose kids have bare feet.
- Keep showing your humility. America doesn’t want a king – it never has. That’s why we don’t really like dynasties, even though we occasionally elect them. Be human and let us all learn to trust you.
The economy will continue to have its ups and downs (though it will recover quicker, imho, if you support grassroots creative entrepreneurship over bailing out the over-privileged.) There will be conflicts and disputes and civil wars in places near and far where people are angry and have no hope of a better life. And there will be injustices, big and small, because since that apple tree in the Garden of Eden there have always been temptations and people willing to trade away their integrity for them. You will have no control over these things so just do your best and try not to succumb to the illusions of power. Focus on what you can do to make this country a Best Place to Work, a Best Place to Live and a Best Place to Be. Support what gives us opportunity, not only for prosperity of the pocketbook but also of the soul. Help us be the change we want to make.
I love getting emails like this one from Lissette, a freshman at the Art Institute of Charlotte majoring in Fashion Marketing and Management, especially when I’m feeling like I have something to pass on.
My reason for writing to you is because im doing a project about my career, which is creating my own shoe line and opening my own store as well. My professor has asked me to interview someone that is related to what i want to do, which is to become a CEO just like yourself. I know you are a busy person but i would appreciate it if you may answer some of the questions that are fundamental to my project and most importantly to my dream career.
These were her questions and my answers.
1) For what company(s) do you have the title of CEO?
Wow – who has the time to be CEO of more than one? Ok, so I sent her my updated bio, which I realized I never updated here. <updates bio>
2) What steps did you have to take to become a CEO? Can you please include any education that may have helped you in becoming a CEO? If you didn’t receive any college education, would you say that it is necessary?
Nothing prepares you to be an entrepreneur like just doing it. I have a lot of education which was necessary for developing our products but for shoe design you need to be artistic and know what women will buy. Hang out with entrepreneurs whenever you can and you’ll pick up a lot of good stuff.
3) What skills do you think one should have to become a successful CEO?
You need to be a Founder. (There are some things on my blog about that.) A huge amount of energy. (I work very long hours most days.) PR is expensive so learn to write well so you can get free PR while you are developing your business.
4) What is your advice in how to start gaining experience?
Do anything you can – make things and sell them. Get other people involved with you.
5) Any additional advice you could give me that could help me in reaching my goals?
Fashion is high risk and you’ll need investors. Figure out how to find the people who invest in this stuff. Read trade journals, Womens Wear Daily (I am assuming they still print it – it was the big paper a long time ago), Wall Street Journal. Save money now! You’ll need it to get started.
So now I am thinking, have I taken my own advice? And if I knew then what I know now, would I have done it?
Actually, all the advice I ever got on careers was to get a job that didn’t interfere with being a mother. (Yes, that was a very long time ago.) I was never very good at listening to people who said I couldn’t do something and that’s probably helped more than anything. Without persistence, being an entrepreneur is impossible.
And yes, I would have done it. When the mission is that powerful, there’s no saying no.
I hope Lissette just says yes.
Today, in Pennsylvania at least, everyone’s a hiring manager.
I ran into an old friend at the NY HRO show last week and he asked me why there’s been so much about politics in my blog lately. I hadn’t really thought much about that. After all, this blog is about leadership and ordinarily I don’t get to select the chief executive of just any organization so it seemed logical. But today it seems more than just logical. It seems, well, just. As in justice.
Today’s the day that ordinary people, the ones who work for someone else and have never had the responsibility for hiring someone, get to have some say in who we hire for our next president. The hiring process isn’t that much different than any other (except for the assessment part) – sourcing (networking really works well here!), scrutiny of resumes, multiple interviews, references, the winnowing of the field – all leading up to the final selection. The difference is, today we are all equal. Everyone, whether CEO, manager, solo entrepreneur or line worker, gets the same power in the hiring process.
I voted early this morning. I’m a hiring manager today. I hope you are too.
Eliot Spitzer, the governor of NY, has just made headlines as an allegedly admitted customer of a prostitution ring. This is the guy who, as NY’s former Attorney General, prosecuted more than his share of sex workers.
This is my Letter to the Editor that Chief Executive magazine published in June, 2005. It was in response to an editorial on Spitzer’s heavy-handed treatment of business.
I don’t always get to read all the pages of Chief Executive, but you caught my eye with the reference to Eliot Spitzer. Here’s the question I would have liked to throw back at him: If you are sworn to uphold the laws and the U.S. Constitution, etc., why do you make the knee-jerk presumption of CEO guilt? (Good thing you didn’t sling back…you could have ended up in his court with RICO charges.)
Misuse of power is misuse of power, whether done in the name of a corporation, a government, a family, a religion, etc. This sounds like a massive case of projective identification to me.
The difference between a functional organization and a dysfunctional one is that functional ones have balance between forward motion and thoughtful restraint. With corporations, the board and executive team at least have the option of diversity of style that would create that balance. (Enron didn’t, hence the weak and too-late entry of their whistle-blower.) Government has no such rules.
Most heads of agencies rule with the iron fist they project onto those who work in the private sector, both the managerial CEOs and the entrepreneurial ones. But without the cooperation of the team, nothing good happens in any organization, especially the entrepreneurial ones where people work more for love than immediate compensation. There’s no such need in government, where you’re forced to pre-pay, via taxes, for services you may not want, that aren’t productive, that are run inefficiently at best and are often dangerous and where you can’t even get the protections afforded a minority shareholder.
Keep up the good work. I learn a lot from you.
I’m sorry, Governor Spitzer but I can’t defend you. I just hope you don’t take the sex workers down with you.