Even though you go through the processes of establishing a shared vision, values, and organizational goals, do you really think that all of your most valued priorities would be carried out if you suddenly left? Here’s a confession from this CEO: not at my organization. And it’s not a reflection on what I view to be a spectacular staff and board of directors here.
It’s just that after 32 years in this business, my observation is that when the CEO packs it up, you can expect that many of his priority projects will depart with him. I’ve polled CEO colleagues on the subject, and the common response theme has been, “As much as I hate to admit it, I believe that some essential initiatives would go by the wayside when I leave. Even though everyone agreed on the direction, I’m realist enough to know that some things are driven by the weight of the CEO.”
So what really keeps initiatives alive? Is it a shared vision, or in some circumstances is it simply CEO oompf?
I asked Tim Miller, owner of MTM Associates, an organizational development consulting firm near TampaFlorida, what he thought. Miller was reminded of Jim Collins’ research on “good-to-great” companies. He cited Collins’ belief that leaders with personal humility and professional will are more likely to leave an enduring legacy than those with gargantuan egos.
Miller also believes that a CEO’s priorities stand a greater chance of sustainability when there is a high degree of amicability in the separation and when the successor comes from within.
For my part, I’m focusing on developing leadership throughout our organization and matching key initiatives with the people who have the greatest passion for them. Not that I plan on leaving any time soon. I have these pet projects I want to get going…