Leading a company, or an organization, can be quite lonely.
Years ago I was promoted to general manager. I wasn’t president of my organization for some petty political reasons, but that was okay. I had the job, and I would prove I could do it, then we would talk about title later. I was effectively the president.
Anyway, one day I went to my boss of many years, who was also on our board, and started to talk about some problems in my new role as general manager. He said “You need to talk to Mr. _____, because I’m just a CFO. He’s a president, and you need to talk to a president.”
It was an eye-opener for me. This executive, who I looked up to and worked with for years, was amazing. But he knew the problems I was facing were not CFO problems. You see, a CFO can work under the direction of the CEO or president. The buck, as they say, stops with the president. The president is the ultimate decision-maker.
President’s Day in the United States was originally a day to recognize and celebrate George Washington’s birthday. Now we don’t really know what it is… is it a day to celebrate all U.S. presidents? Is it a day to celebrate the current president? Is it a birthday celebration for George Washington? We’re not sure, although for some of us it is a day off. For others, it’s a day we go to work and see other people have their day off.
Today, the day after President’s Day, I want to talk about the other president… the president that runs an organization. As a president (or CEO, or general manager), what are your objectives? What are your goals?
On your list should be organizational culture. You should be very concerned about hiring and retention, your employment brand, employee satisfaction, and employee performance. Oh yeah, you probably have growth, financials, profit, strategy, competition, etc. on your mind.
There is not one single thing you can do to impact all of those things. You can’t hire the best COO on the planet and have everything taken care of. You can’t hire the best VP of HR and have all of your culture and people needs met. You can’t offshore or outsource these problems.
Your solution will be multi-faceted. A combination of policy and process, smart hiring, and building the right team at the executive level, along with having the right people in place to manage and supervise. YOU, as the leader, have to realize that many of the programs and systems in place depend on your ability to really and visibly support them. “Top down” means that YOU abide by the same rules, and follow the same policies and processes, as you expect even the newest hire to abide by. Top down leadership is critical.
I know this is a lonely role. I know you need to focus on A, B, and C while wishing you had time to work on X, Y, and Z. When you focus on sales and finances you might be inclined to let hiring and retention slide a little. But it doesn’t have to be that way.
Make sure you build the right team around you. Empower your CEO and HR leader, as well as the other executives. Empower the manager and supervisors. Train them, and share your cultural philosophies with them so they can know what they’ll be measured against, and what you expect of them.
Being the leader, especially in tough situations, is lonely. No doubt about it. But you don’t have to be alone. Get your team together, and trust them.
Snowfly is a culture and employee performance system that helps with all of this. You may not have hired us to be on your executive team, but we would be honored to be a trusted partner with your goals of employee satisfaction and employee performance. Want to learn more about how our software helps you with culture?