Edit ModuleShow Tags

CEOs: Check under the hood


Published:

The day I wrote this, I had two interactions with a company that sent a shiver up the CEO’s spine when I told him about them. In both cases, a relatively “junior” person (I don’t like the word “junior,” but it gets the point across) took initiative to look out for the company but got it just a bit twisted and ended up tarnishing the organization’s image.

I’m confident that both people were trying to do the “right thing,” so I didn’t get angry (frustrated, yes, but not angry). But I needed my problem solved, so called the CEO, whom I knew. He was a bit torqued at the situation, and we had an interesting conversation.

Many years ago when he worked at a different company, his boss called him on the carpet for eating breakfast twice in one day. He’d gotten up really early for a conference call and ordered toast, and then he later met clients for breakfast. She made him write her a check for the toast. After he became CEO of another large company, he resolved that bureaucratic blunders wouldn’t happen on his watch. They have.

I suggested that perhaps he’d been successful but was unable to reach perfection in this regard, but he responded, “What if this happens 20 percent of the time rather than 1 percent of the time?” The fact that he worries about this is one of the reasons he’s such a good CEO.

When you’re insulated from day-to-day transactions — whether they’re with the external world (for example, clients and suppliers) or with your co-workers — it’s extremely easy to believe that because your heart and head are in the right place, it’ll all work out. It doesn’t, of course, and you must make corrections.

I haven’t watched Undercover Boss on television, but from the trailers, I believe I understand the premise. I suspect that none of them has every gone undercover and thought, “This is exactly what I expected!”

How often do you do a deep dive into your organization to see what goes on in the trenches? This doesn’t have to be a punitive endeavor. In fact, if there are consistent front-line problems, you can usually look to the generals for the cause. The right culture, processes and people will get rid of most bureaucratic behavior, but sometimes you just need to look under the hood!

Edit Module
Todd Ordal

Todd Ordal is President of Applied Strategy LLC. Todd helps CEOs achieve better financial results, become more effective leaders and sleep easier at night. He speaks, writes, consults and advises on issues of strategy and leadership. Todd is a former CEO and has led teams as large as 7,000. Follow Todd on Twitter here. You can also find Todd at http://www.appliedstrategy.info,  303-527-0417 or todd@appliedstrategy.info

Get more of our current issue | Subscribe to the magazine | Get our Free e-newsletter

Edit ModuleShow Tags

Archive »Related Articles

What leaders need to know about emotional intelligence

It’s not good enough to be smart. That may get you into a leadership role, but it is emotional intelligence (often abbreviated “EQ” or “EI”) that will allow you to succeed. As an executive, there are some things that you should know about emotional intelligence.

Should you invest in Denver's hot real estate market?

The potential rewards may make Denver real estate difficult to resist – but be cautious. At some point, supply may catch up to demand, sales may slow and values may stabilize or potentially decline. And without careful financial planning, an investor can be put into a complicated cash crunch.

Best of Colorado Business Choice 2016 lifestyle winners

Here are the Best of Colorado Business Choice 2016 winners and finalists in the lifestyle category.
Edit ModuleShow Tags

Thanks for contributing to our community-- please keep your comments in good taste and appropriate for our business professional readers.

Add your comment: