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CEO - The Samurai Way

CEOs are rock-stars. 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.

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Things that no one else but only the CEO can do and must do. It requires awareness, intent and conscious action – the reason why you should care.

I was fortunate to become a CEO of an MNC in my early thirties. The year was 2005. Most of the advice that I came across was oriented towards giving directions on how not to mess up.

2005 was also when Peter F Drucker passed away. I looked up the maverick management guru’s insights on the role of a CEO. In practice through my next few years that I have led large 1000 +/- people teams, Drucker’s insights have stood me in good stead.

The requirements at CEO level don’t grow vertically – they grow exponentially.

I produce here my own take on the 3 things that only the CEO can do.

1. Play the Inside-Outside Game

The 'inside' refers to the organisation.

CEOs are rock-stars. 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.

A great CEO with an enterprise-wide perspective needs to be flexible who zooms in and zooms out at break-neck speed to decide

· Which external stakeholder matters the most

· What results are the most meaningful?

· Where should one play and not play at all to win

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 great CEO needs to

· decide realistic growth goals

· identify ‘right’ goals for short term to build credibility and momentum for the long term

· dedicate personal involvement in leadership development with an aim to make himself redundant

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.

A great CEO creates an organisation where he/she could lead thereby establishing

· The company’s identity around core values

· Ownership of 'standards' by everyone

· winning with those who matter the most and

· winning against the very best.

The CEO is uniquely positioned and more importantly accountable and empowered to ensure the above three.

No one else is!

These three areas should receive conscious and the greatest attention of a CEO. In majority of cases they do not.

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.

Disclaimer: The views expressed in the article above are those of the authors' and do not necessarily represent or reflect the views of this publishing house. Unless otherwise noted, the author is writing in his/her personal capacity. They are not intended and should not be thought to represent official ideas, attitudes, or policies of any agency or institution.


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Peter F Drucker leadership development management

Piyush Sharma

Piyush Sharma is a modern management practitioner and ancient philosophy enthusiast

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