They Are Not You

Quick Summary: As the CEO, you have a unique perspective on the business. Do not expect others to share it.


As the CEO, you are responsible for every aspect of the company’s operation, its successes, and its failures.  Others within the organization may have similar feelings but will probably be primarily focused on their individual areas of responsibilities.  They will probably be acting on what they think is the company’s best interest, but, in fact, may not have the same interpretation of what that is as you do.  Accept the fact that this misalignment will probably occur.  Managing course corrections is part of your job.

If you have several hours of free time which, of course, no CEO ever has, Google “It’s lonely at the top” to see page after page of articles.  Most are very good and validate the statement.  Many articles provide excellent examples of why this statement applies to CEOs.  There is even a song with that title.

One of the mistakes that many entrepreneurs and new CEOs make is to assume that others, even your closest friends, confidants, and direct reports, think and feel the same about the business as you do.  They don’t.  This is not an indictment or meant to criticize them. It is simply a fact that when you assume the role of the company leader, you take on an incredible amount of responsibility and authority that is part of the job.  As discussed in the article in this collection, 3.010301, “CEO Means Chief Everything Officer,” your responsibility spans every aspect of your business.  You are responsible for employees, partners, customers, and financial investors as described in the article, 4.050205, “Your Balancing Challenge.”  Others may partially share your feelings of responsibility.  For example, your head of sales may feel responsible for revenue, your development manager for delivering the product on time, or your customer service manager for maintaining high levels of customer satisfaction.  It is natural for each business “silo” manager to focus on their metrics.  Hopefully, they will also focus on the overall health and welfare of the entire organization.  However, do not be surprised by the occurrence of some seemingly unnatural acts or responses that you never saw coming from even the most mature and capable members of your organization.

As each individual within the organization focuses on their tactical issues, it is easy for them to lose sight of the overall goals and visions that you have set and so carefully articulated repeatedly.  Expect it and accept it as a natural occurrence rather than as a failure on anyone’s part. As discussed in Chapter 4.02, titled “Responding versus Reacting,“ many of your disappointments in your staff’s actions can be traced to the root cause of the apparent need for speed that we have grown accustomed to due to the instant communications capabilities that surround us.  As mentioned in several articles, the “Knee-Jerk” has become the new corporate dance.

Unfortunately, this problem will probably never go away.  You can, however, keep it in tow by being a calming influence when these disappointments do, inevitably, occur.  One thought that will help put these issues in perspective is to think about how the individual that caused the unexpected action got up this morning.  They probably turned off the alarm, stretched, and got out of bed, planning to have a good and productive day doing their job to the best of their ability.  They did not get up, stretch, and say to themselves that they were going to have a bad, unproductive day and cause mayhem in the organization! Every now and then, something derails them, and they take what they believe is the appropriate action, which may not be in the company’s best interest as YOU see it. 

Accept the fact that you are different, not that they are different.  They are doing what they believe is correct.  Be slow to judge but quick to help them understand your point of view.  Listen more than you talk.  Don’t be surprised if you are the person that doesn’t understand.  In those circumstances, be thankful that they are not you!

Article Number : 4.050208   

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