Examining the Chief Executive Officer’s Role in Organizations

June 27, 2010 by  Filed under: Management 

Being a reckless employee in the earlier stages of a career is expected, but after being on the job for for a while, a certain level of maturity must prevail that also incorporates responsible behavior.  This responsible behavior translates into one of the pillars of leadership.  Emotional, intellectual, and rational maturity are elements that a leader must master in order to be effective, relevant, and valued.    So many times we read about corporate leaders doing some not so smart things such as harassing subordinates, accepting bribes, showing favoritism during contract negotiations, or being out-right deceptive.

The leader of tomorrow has to surpass the temptations of the past that left companies crippled, images tarnished, and employees embarrassed.  The New Leader to manage global firms must have ethics at the forefront of his or her agenda to enforce new restrictions imposed on various industries after the recent global financial crisis.  As a recent business school graduate, my class was taught to focus more of the leadership model on ethics because it sets the tone throughout the organization.  This is definitely the case in that the ethos of the Chief Executive Officer defines the attitude and culture of the organization.  If the CEO is more hands-off, expect the majority of his or her managers to follow-suit.  So this is definitely the first consideration that even departmental managers should develop to manage the staff.

A good CEO must realize that he cannot manage people, but manage the the professional aspect of their personality to incentivize the use of talent within the scope of the corporate mission.  This job may commonly fall on the line-managers, but the CEO is just as responsible to other officers and stakeholders. This broad context message has to be conveyed from the Chief Operating Officer to the Janitor.  The agenda is clear to project a positive political spin on challenges, and never end a speech or conversation on a negative note.

Written and Verbal communications are the two key tools for a CEO provided that he knows how to also listen to customers and employees.  The CEO of Sprint does an excellent job of supporting his brand in advertising by becoming the everyday customer instead of a guy in a stuffy business suit behind a desk.  The way the Ford Motor Company, CEO  conducted himself during the Congressional inquiry.  He projected Ford in the most positive light  by not asking the American Taxpayer for a dime, but secured lines of credit years prior.  Also, his brand of leadership thwarted catastrophe at Ford by liquidating some of the other brands the firm had acquired such as Land Rover. Volvo, Mazda, and others.  His new brand of leadership brought with it the vision to go into the unknown, the courage to change the comfortable, and the aptitude to live by a well-thought out decision.

It is very difficult to point to one specific business leader as the catch-all be-all, because each leader has a unique style and quality.  Think of it this way, how did Michael Jackson become a great entertainer?  It was not just through hard work, but through observing many others before him and developing his own style. The moonwalk has been around decades before he was born and before Jeffrey Daniel of Shalamar fame made it popular in the late 1970’s.  A CEO does not have to invent the wheel, but make sure that it does not fall off the organizational hub.  The morals, values, and philosophy of the CEO  will resonate throughout the organization through managers and employees, so therefore a leader must always be responsible in his actions and provide a means to steer the firm in the right direction or toward the best interest of all stakeholders.

The recent tragedy with the British Petroleum oil-spill should be a text book case of what not to do as a CEO during a time of crisis.  Getting in front of the crisis and softening the opinion of the media, politicians, and the community should always be a priority during a crisis.  Getting in front of the camera and stating “I want my life back.”  is pouring salt in a gaping wound.  Toyota’s CEO made a mistake by ignoring a small issue before it ballooned into a monster of a story.    In both of these cases, the CEO’s handled the situation poorly and therefore cost the firms in public relations dollars atop the fines and penalties.

Silent during a crisis is the CEO’s worst enemy in that the period between the incident and the response form the organization is crucial.  An interim statement is the best option that conveys a sense of sorrow without admitting guilt, acknowledgment of the incident, and apology to all impacted by the crisis, and a commitment to work with the community and agencies to resolve the problem.  The CEO has to develop a team with all parties to tackle the crisis instead of trying to do it in a vacuum.

These are just some of the fundamental issues that a CEO must face and resolve.  And in a closing note, if the CEO is the smarted person within the organization, then there is definitely a problem.  Having experts in particular fields are essential in order to make and informed executive decision.  In retrospect, that is the majority of the CEO’s job along with communicating.

James Adams is a seasoned professional with over twenty years of industry experience in the areas of Information Technology, Broadcast Media, International Business, Marketing, Public Relations, and Entertainment combined.

James has several years of personal experience as a personal match-maker and informal relationship adviser with a successful track-record. In his twenty plus years in the aforementioned fields, he has mastered the realm of social networking by engaging in topics, and subject matter after extensive research.

You may see some of his work at Weiberfach Business Journal

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James L Adams - EzineArticles Expert Author

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