The Measure of a CEO

 

 

RulerI read an interesting article recently in which the author, a seasoned business consultant and attorney, referred to half of all the CEO’s out there as being “below average”.  There were no studies cited, no research statistics offered, and no indication of what “average” is, was, or has been.  The article offered one example of a high profile CEO who was fired three months after his initial hire date for failing to produce profits commensurate with his salary!  Was this something the company did not realize when they hired him?

How do we measure the quality of our Chief Executive?  Do we only work with those who come with a demonstrable track record of success?  Do they know how to make money?  Are they good with people?  Do they have clear vision?  Are they skilled facilitators, mentors, directors and growth mongers?  Can they build a sales team, create a marketing plan and implement operational strategy?  Are their values clear, is their mission strong and does their very presence in the boardroom exude integrity?

If the answer to all of these questions is a resounding “YES”, you haven’t found a CEO; you’ve found Superman or Wonder Woman.  I work daily with CEO’s.  Lot’s of them.  In fact the foundation of my consulting practice is CEO skill development and strategic planning which puts me in direct one-on-one contact with these high level power brokers.  My experience often leaves me wondering why anyone would want to take on this extremely complex, thankless, unforgiving and emotionally draining task.   The CEO’s I know work incredibly long hours, take all the company problems home, directly answer client complaints, smooth over human resource issues, answer to profit driven BOD’s, and at the end of the day, offer everyone else the credit for company accomplishment.

The CEO position is also the most tenuous position in the organization.  Anyone who has been around for more than a minute knows that founding owners, managing boards and Chairman don’t make mistakes.  It’s always the CEO who goes; the CEO who ultimately takes the fall or pays the price for poor company performance.  So why do they do it?

The CEO’s I know can’t walk in a room and not be a leader.  They are driven to accomplishment, goal and task.  They are deeply committed, driven to personal and organizational excellence, focused on the strategic vision of their industry and organization.  Are they perfect?  Not a chance.  Ego driven?  Absolutely.  Difficult to please, often argumentative, aggressive, and in many cases abrasive to those closest to them?  Yes.  Should we accept this kind of behavior? No.  But we also need to take the time to understand where the behavior emanates from.

To cite an example, one of my clients recently took on the CEO role of a high growth, seemingly successful $50 million dollar manufacturing company.  Once inside, she realized that the reason the profits were so outstanding is that the previous owners had never provided for the appropriate infrastructure to maintain quality in production.

When my client recommended a major and costly reorganization to support quality in their process the Board of Directors began to second guess their choice for CEO. Couple this with the normal fair of several employee related legal claims against previous management, a management team in transition, a cash flow shortage and yes, you may be dealing with someone whose fuse is pretty short.

While the tender of success in the workplace is measured in dollars I find it hard to judge a CEO negatively simply because they negotiate the strongest personal compensation package possible.  I often ask skeptics a simple question when I am queried about the validity of a client’s compensation package; “Compared to what?”  Even professional compensation specialists have a difficult time agreeing on CEO compensation as the points of reference are as varied as the individual needs of the organization.

I want to be clear that I am not condoning poor performance nor am I suggesting that there are not compensation plans out there that cross into the land of absurdity.  I am saying that we need to take a long hard look at the men and women who have the courage to take on these high profile positions.  Hopefully when we do, we will see leaders we can be proud to follow, leaders we can trust to do the right thing, and leaders that will promote the health and well being of American business.

Sharon Jenks is CEO of The Jenks Group Inc., a California Consulting Company that specializes in strategic planning and executive development. She can be reached at http://www.thejenksgroup.com.

 

TIPS FOR GROWING YOUR BUSINESS

grow your businessIn order to have a successful business, practice these things. If your business strategy is lacking in a particular area, its time to fix it. These are seven tips to grow your business.

1) BE HANDS-ON AND METICULOUS

In order to grow your business, the business owner needs to be there all the time and hands on, like a doctor.

A business owner can never be afraid to do the small tasks. He or she should pitch in and straighten up boxes or pick up things. Small things do get noticed, so attention to detail is very important.”

2) SHOW YOUR PASSION

Selling is a transfer of enthusiasm. Business owners need to show their enthusiasm for their product or service, as well as for their customers.

Besides showing passion, business owners need to be optimistic. In business, there are all kinds of problems. You have to look for the good in every situation and look for the lesson in everything that goes wrong.

3) FOCUS ON THE CUSTOMER

The purpose of business is not to make a profit. It’s to create and keep a customer. You want them to come the first time, then come again and finally bring their friends.

How you are doing is directly related to how many satisfied customers you have. To increase customer satisfaction, you have to listen to your customers and be involved in their buying experience.

4) BECOME MORE COMPETITIVE

Unless you have an exclusive monopoly, competition is everything and differentiation is the key to successful selling. You can’t be a ‘me-too’ company.

You must have a competitive advantage. If you don’t have one, create one.

It all comes down to your USP or unique selling proposition. This is what makes you better than your competitors. It can be your location, your product, but often it’s you. When customers think of a business, they often think of the people who make up that business and especially the owner.

5) MIND THE MONEY

In putting together a business strategy, business owners should always focus on sales, revenues and cash flow, and to know every day how much money is being made. Focus on your net profit, not your gross profit. This gives you a more realistic view of how the business is doing.

Look to ‘idealize your business.’ Think about what your perfect business would look like, and figure out what you need to do to create it.

6) BE THE BEST

Successful business owners are always striving for excellence. They want to be the best at what they do. Being the best is about being in constant motion, working harder and faster. Being the best is also about wanting to learn more.

7) MEASURE YOUR SUCCESS

Everyone defines success differently. The best measure of success: Number one, you should enjoy what you do. That’s the ultimate success. Next, you should consistently hit your numbers, it shows that you know what you’re doing. Lastly, you should love your product or service, and you should love your customers. If you do all these, you can’t help but be successful.

CONCLUSION

All of these tips to growing a successful business are important. Having your own business is challenging and rewarding. It is important to plan and set your goals in the long term.

By Brian Tracy