You Don’t Get To Do That

A couple of years ago an owner/CEO and I were exploring the reasons behind her discomfort with her company’s performance.

One issue that kept coming up was her continual involvement in so many areas of the business. She needed to know about every customer, every project, and every issue that came about.

We examined the competence of her leadership team. She was insistent that each leader was experienced and talented. Their results were good – they just didn’t understand how to do things her way. So she had to know about everything that was going on to be sure things were done correctly.

I asked, “What are the things that aren’t getting done because you’re too busy improving other people’s results?”

She paused. “What do you mean?”

I mean, “What is your job description? What is the CEO of your company supposed to do?”

She hadn’t thought about it that way. Other than being in charge of everything, she had not thought about her specific responsibilities as tasks for the CEO.

We worked together to quickly jot down a CEO job description. It didn’t take long, but when we finished she was very quiet.

Finally she spoke. “The problem is… I don’t want to do these things.”

“Great!” I said. Because you’re not only the CEO, you’re the owner. Let’s figure out what you do want to do.

It didn’t take long to discover that she really wanted to work strategically in Product Management. But then she indicated another problem.

“I pay myself too much money to be a Product Manager.”

“But this is your company” I said. “You are the owner and can create a position for yourself and pay yourself what you like.”

“Then hire someone to be your CEO to do the CEO things. He or she should easily pay for them self many times over. This is putting the right people in the right seat of the bus.”

“The CEO role is a singular position in the company and carries responsibilities that only the CEO can do. What you don’t get to do is occupy the CEO chair, reserving the CEO duties for yourself, and not do them.”

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