We have started a series of articles about considering yourself as a possible CEO. The CEO role is usually the highest-ranking executive in an organization. They make major corporate decisions, oversee the company’s overall operations and resources, and communicate with the board of directors, executive management team, and any corporate operations at the home office.
The thing you really have to ask yourself is: Is this CEO job what I really like doing?
It’s a combination of being a visionary and an ambassador and a culture molder and a strategist and the ultimate level of accountability in an organization. You are in the limelight and the hot seat at the same time all of the time. You must stop doing all of the previous jobs you used to do. There is someone in your organization who is now accountable for what you used to be accountable for. There is a tremendous cost of doing other people’s jobs. You now have a whole new and different sandbox to own as your own. Whether your strength was operations, marketing, sales, or whatever, you’ll need to release those acquired skillsets to someone else and now get about acquiring the CEO skillsets you need to be successful. Many never do this and they can’t get out of their own way.
Because they didn’t realize the CEO job was not something they really wanted to do. In all the other jobs, as they ascended the organization, the new job was a more accountable, intense and wide authority of power of something they had already done. The CEO role, if done properly, is not like any other job you would have done. It’s a conglomeration of all the top jobs. So, if you prefer one of the main activities of the business, then you may not want to attempt the CEO role but be very happy being in a top role over technology or sales or whatever, but not the administrative, visionary or strategic demands of the CEO position.
If you feel that taking the CEO role is your obligation, or you want it to prevent someone else to have it, or that it’s an expectation of you to take it, you will probably not have a lot of personal happiness and the organization will probably not reach more of its potential. Both you and the business would benefit more if you assume a position you both like and can be highly successful occupying while another person either inside or from outside the organization assumes the CEO role.
We have been talking about leadership versus management for years now, almost to the point where some of our audience dreads the subject coming up. At one time it was a novel point and concept, but many people have now heard this message. The problem is that few have mastered the concept. In no other position do you have to master leadership versus management as you do in the CEO position. The CEO role is almost 100% leadership with very little management. Leaders have people as the center of their focus while managers have things, resources and processes as their center. The CEO does not manage things, they primarily lead people.
If you have spent the majority of your career being an excellent manager of things and process, you will need to evaluate your personal capacity to change to become more of a leader. Leadership is a skill that can be developed. It is the skillset around getting results with and through people. Don’t allow your pride to fool you where your qualifications are concerned in this area. A strong executive coach would be able to help you honestly evaluate your current state and some future states you should aspire to achieve.
There is a huge difference in the CEO being BOSS and the CEO who is a leader. A boss issues commands and statements. A leader paints a picture and asks questions. Management is a process and business skillset. Leadership is a people skillset. Management is based on coping with complexity while leadership is about coping with change. Management is about planning and organizing while leadership is about aligning people, motivating them, and inspiration. Managers need leadership skills too, but in the CEO role, the balance is heavily skewed toward the leadership and people side of the equation.
So, in essence, you are making the decision whether you want to be the operations type or the executive type of person. Do not allow your ego to get in the way and tell you that you have worked hard in this company for umpteen years and you should be entitled to the CEO position. This will play on your emotions and will put you in a position where you just cannot accept to have others in that position you believe should be rightfully yours. The truth is, there is no shame in being who you like to be and not doing what you don’t like to do. Your happiness and success as well as the success of your organization is more important than any title.