The very big step up from general management to being a CEO

Posted in: Bloggery

Recent press coverage of a high profile CEO exit was a further reminder about just how big the step is from general management to being a CEO.  The demands are huge, and come across such a broad spectrum of responsibilities.

From time to time in our practice we work with general managers looking to move up to CEO roles, and with country heads within multi-nationals looking to move to being the CEO of a listed company in Australia.

With CEO aspirants we really encourage hard thinking (supported with a few tools) to reality test their fit for such roles.  In our view it simply is not a success to see a CEO appointment achieved, where the individual will subsequently experience several years of unmitigated stress owing to an incomplete array of talents and attributes in the individual.

Some of this work is also intended to prepare individuals for the searching due diligence process coming their way.

We provide a comprehensive listing of capabilities and achievements most likely to be pre-requisites – testing interest, experience and proven capabilities in each area.  And then we discuss, and sometimes
test for aspects of character and personality which are fairly critical as well.  These include the sense of balance and control present within the individual, their skills in compartmentalising the many different aspects of a CEO role and then in also achieving a fulfilling personal life.  Careful appraisal of EQ is as critical as the more analytical skills associated with IQ.

In the context of a specific courtship we prompt extensive research into the organisation – its competitors, where it sits in terms of market maturity, specific challenges and what a new CEO may have to do
differently from the last one.  We also prompt careful due diligence by the individual on the people surrounding this role, including the Chairman – as much as may be undertaken on them!

All of this reflects just how big a step up taking on a CEO role is. It is an appointment only a few amongst us have the skills and attributes to deliver well.