Everyone has blind spots, and CEOs are no different.
One of the biggies is forgetting that you’re the only one at the top of the tree.
Even in a company with a flat structure, you’re still the one who will be deferred to for the biggest decisions. And usually for anything relating to pay, and often promotion.
But it’s worth remembering that if you’re the CEO, especially an owner CEO, you’re the only one who doesn’t worry about position.
And that’s important.
Pretty much everyone else at some level is jockeying. It may be about hierarchy, pay, or relative positioning with their colleagues.
If you’re lucky, and you don’t have that going on at some level (highly unlikely), there will still be some positioning going on with regards to influence and ideas.
It may surface as (sometimes) subtle side-swipes at others who are also vying for some form of position.
(Although I’ve also observed a tendency, especially in women leaders, to go out of their way to not show up male peers in front of the CEO. Which is still an acute awareness of position.)
Even if you’ve fostered a culture where the team can challenge you (a great thing in my books), it may surface in how they do that. The challenge itself is often done in a way that is influenced by an awareness that you’re the boss.
For most people who aren’t the CEO, decisions and actions also have an additional layer of complexity. They may be doing something because they think that’s what you want. Or if not as blatant as that, at the very least it may be an influence on their decision-making.
It’s often not intentional, or driven by selfish motives.
Depending how it surfaces, it may even not be bad in and of itself.
But it will exist.
So what to do about it?
First, you need to be aware of it. Be aware that it’s HIGHLY unlikely it will ever go away. And that the best you can do is to minimise it, which you should. But you should never assume you’ve eliminated it.
Sad, but true.
Then do what you can to plant and nurture collaboration. To have people rise as teams through working together rather than as individuals working either alone or against each other.
Reward knowledge sharing, rather than knowledge hoarding. Look out for people holding on to their “aha” moments of genius for only when you’re in the room.
And be very conscious to your own favouritism. Real and perceived. It will only fan the flames.
Finally, do all the above specially in your leadership team. Positional behaviour can be especially destructive in leadership teams. Unfortunately, that’s also where it’s most likely to show up.
Or do none of the above if you want to develop a dog-eat-dog company and fuel destructive competitiveness between your team members for your attention and promotion. Or if you want an effective way to keep them from biting at your heels.
In which case, unfollow me as you’ll probably not like my thinking on how to scale values-led companies 🙂
How's 2022 going? Have you been able to step back and focus on strategy, on purpose, on scale? We're looking for an intimate beta group of CEOs (10 to 40 employees) to join us on this workshop to talk through our Build on Purpose framework for making strategy, purpose and values happen. If that's you, join us.