A CEO's Perspective on Blinders

By Manish K. Gupta, PhD, PE, President and CEO

I’d like to talk about blinders. The kind that limit a manager’s perspective for now. 

When the CEO is doing their job, they rise above the daily fray to understand the full battle field…sorry for the war analogy but it seems to fit here. If the organization is structured into profit centers, one managers battle is of no consequence to the others. There is a selfish protection of resources and ideas. Even when profit centers do not tacitly exist, the natural course of action is to protect your own turf. The CEO can condone this behavior and allow it to devolve into a hyper competitive state or incentivize a highly collaborative way of doing business. I think the latter works best. How many firms are you aware of that can claim 30 percent margin? Not many. Collaboration is the key. 

Secondly, a common trap is to be super lien. First of all, it eats into the work life balance. Secondly, it gives a false notion that profits will be impacted negatively. When the focus is cost versus results, the manager is doomed to fail on both counts. Loss of staff is a likely outcome added to questionable financial performance. A wealth of production staff at various levels of experience is essential to maintaining work life balance, great productivity, and great financial performance. Of course there’s always a balance between workload and staff. 

The CEO can be tough around senior leadership but the same is not true between senior leadership and production staff. The CEO counts on the in depth experience of senior leadership to be able to handle hard conversations. At the production staff level, managers must remain supportive, have emotional intelligence and never be negative.Great managers care for their staff first above all else. When absolutely needed, staff will be asked to push to their limits. It’s a complex dynamic but in the end the manager must be able to garner trust from their staff. Trust that they will be treated with respect. CEO must be mindful of this dynamic and make the necessary changes as soon as possible when there are failures. Sometimes the CEO is sheltered from the fray. That’s where the COO can have a substantial impact.  Next time I will touch on where the COO fits in. Needless to say that the steriotypical ideal of the CEO as the cheerleader is kind of silly. 

But more on this next time...