Moderators: Leah Carey, Carl Scholz, Parallel Minds
The question of who runs your company seems like it should have a simple answer. However, every organization will struggle with this question at some point in its evolution.
Within every company are competing factions. While the competition is not always overt, there can be a perpetual struggle for influence between departments such as revenue generators (sales, usually), product developers, infrastructure providers (IT and others), finance, boards of directors and investors. High performance by each one of the competing influencer groups is necessary to the success of the company, and each group brings both positive and negative things to their degree of influence. Ultimately, this struggle will have an impact on the C-suite in the form of either unbalanced influence or a need for the C-suite executives to step in and keep the competing divisions aligned for the greater good of the company.
It is the hallmark of the best CEOs to be able to balance these elements properly and keep each group’s influence both properly constrained but also free enough to innovate and take appropriate risks that can benefit the entire company. Often, according to Leah Carey at Parallel Minds, most CEOs can be classified as having strengths with either task-orientation or people-orientation. When questions of influence arise, they will default to whatever his or her particular strength is. However, a strong tool for dealing with conflict (or problem solving, in general) is to elevate the question at hand to see how a particular outcome will affect the entire organization or impact broad corporate strategy. By looking to a larger question of corporate direction, great CEOs will be able to depersonalize conflict and better align internal influencers to attack a common goal.
The struggle for influence may be part of human nature. However, CEOs who build and live a corporate culture that values transparency and the open and productive exchange of ideas among the company’s leadership, as well as the “rank and file,” are better able to create a sense of balance and mission within the company. Great CEOs are rare but when you find one, it’s usually easy to answer the question, “who is running the company?”
Christopher M. Nahil
Message & Medium - Marketing and Communications Consulting