Time to change your CEO?

By Jukka Sappinen, CEO, Extended DISC International – http://www.l-a.com.vn/news/detail/1156/time-to-change-your-ceo.htm

Long time ago, when I was a young consultant, I was with a seasoned CEO sitting in his huge office. I was there to help him use our assessments within his organization. It turned out I wasn’t able to help him as much as he was able to increase my knowledge about people.

Quite in the beginning of the meeting, he said “I enjoy working for this company as long as it is in turmoil and is doing poorly”. It took me a while to understand what he meant by it.

After saying that, he explained to me under what kind of conditions his company was at the moment. He was managing a logistics company mainly specializing in road transportation. The country was in recession and there was just not enough business activity to keep the trucks on the road. I thought he was just an unlucky CEO having to work for that company.

I thought everyone would like to work, and especially manage, a winning company with a positive cash flow. But that was not the case for him. He said it is the challenge that drives him and the reason why he accepted the job. Once he would get things running, he would simply get bored and de-motivated, which would become a challenge for the organization.

That was pretty much all I remembered from the meeting when I walked out of his office. It was the first time I realized that a CEO is not an employee who is working for a company. A CEO is a “man with a mission”. Once the mission is accomplished, his job is done and it is time to go.

We have learned that people are different. So are the CEO’s. Some of them are at their best when things are tough, others when it is time to grow and sell. Some are best at making sure all operations are ran as cost-effectively as possible, when others enjoy their mission of improving a bad corporate climate.

As the world is recovering from the recession, many industries/companies are also facing new challenges. Challenges that the CEO is expected to overcome.

If the main goal of your current CEO during the last 12 months has been to cut cost and lay off people (all of which he has done well), are you sure he is the best person to take your company to the next phase requiring aggressive promotion, selling and re-gaining the trust of your customers and re-positioning you as a winner on the market?

No human being can be an efficient chameleon. We don’t expect a production engineer to become a star “door-to-door” sales person. Definitely not overnight, maybe never. How can we then expect our CEO’s to be able to do that?

Most of the readers of this article are not in a position to hire/fire CEO’s. Maybe all this is irrelevant to you – you couldn’t do anything about it anyway.

Maybe not now, but in the future you can. You can fire your CEO. And it is very simple. When the next CEO joins your company, ask him why he is there, what is his goal, and when does he know his job is done. Ask also what he is planning to do after that. He must have the answer to all those questions. Otherwise, he is not worth becoming your CEO!

And the good thing is, if he has answers to those questions, you will never have to change your CEO. He will do it himself.


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