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CEOs must be Masters of the Craft of CEO Management

Over the years I have asked hundreds of CEOs to tell me their management philosophy. How do they describe their view of the Craft of CEO Management?  Most could not answer the question succinctly or clearly.  Many had “bits” of an answer, but few could describe a comprehensive integrated management process that directs and integrates the work of hundreds or thousands of employees.

For instance the question, “What is the difference between leadership and management?” runs most managers onto the rocks.  They cannot answer and, most revealing, plainly have not considered the difference.  So they tell their management team to be both… but cannot define what this expectation means and as a result garner the predictable disappointing results of under-performance.

I define the mastery of a craft as the lifelong pursuit of proficiency in a chosen profession – the profession in this case being CEO management.  When you take on the management mantle of CEO of a company, you need to be as trained and as confident as a 747 pilot sitting on the runway preparing to take off: that is, somebody who knows the ropes and has trained thoroughly for the job.  CEOs often have not had the hours of training an airline pilot undergoes, nor are forced to learn and inculcate a philosophy, a structure, a set of principles, processes and disciplines and then practice them to an exemplary standard with clear accountability for performance.

But CEOs have the opportunity to choose a management philosophy, a structure, a set of principles, processes and disciplines and then practice using them for the rest of their career.  Unfortunately, most do not and are not held accountable by their Board to do so.

Here lies such a great opportunity for performance improvement.  CEOs who adopt a craft, reflect on it, learn and integrate all the management work of their company tend to get higher levels of engagement and better results.  Without this locked down, they can behave and be perceived as inconsistent, unfair loose cannons.

Nick Forrest

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