Before the concept of the CEO reached the shores of India, it was the Managing Director upon whose shoulders the fate of a company rested.
Ever since the inception of commerce, an idea, a concept, business was led by the intellect and force of one person. Rarely did the chosen one have a partner or co-pilot. Although there are rare instances of partners, it’s always been one person who held the reins and performed the role of the supreme leader. So, here are some of the reasons for small businesses to have a CEO:
To Focus Leadership Towards a Common Objective
Every organisation is led by a core objective, but every objective can be approached from different directions and as a result the route map lends itself to several facets of interpretation. Imagine for a moment that heads of various departments/functions within an organisation were allowed to interpret the objective individually; it would be like a chariot with four or six horses all wanting to run in different directions. Closer home, what if Narayana Murthy were to have handed over the reins of the organisation to a board consisting of the heads of various SBUs/functions, instead of struggling to get the right man to head the entire organisation? While democracy may be the flavour of the season, a successful company is led by one individual, supported by the right team of leaders who actually run the organisation. The right person can lead the company to success; the wrong person can spell disaster. But having no one at the helm can only mean the company goes nowhere at all.
To Have a Business Mind
The CEO is the custodian of the idea, the spirit and the inspiration to reach the objective. He or she cannot be the driver, but he or she must show the direction, must bring the senior talent to accept one goal and objective. He or she must draw cohesiveness across functions. There can be no fructification of the vision, no growth in fact, no forward movement without the unifying force of one person.
To Have a Single Face of the Organisation
History tells us that entrepreneurs and professional managers, who were successful CEOs, were owners of a vision. Michael Dell, Steve Jobs or Bill Gates were entrepreneurs and CEOs, Jack Welsh (GE), John Feraro (E&Y), David J O’Reilly (Chevron), professionals who grew up from the ranks; these gentlemen share the hallmark of global excellence: ruthlessness with congeniality; and in India it isn’t any different.
To Navigate the Way Forward
The trajectory of an organisation’s growth, expresses the need for different qualities in a CEO at different times. For instance at birth, it’s entrepreneurial, at the vertical growth stage, it’s the systematic thinking of a professional, as we go further when growth does not come in leaps and bounds but instead as a steady gradient, it needs a wholly different personality as a CEO. All three of the above entrepreneurs – Gates, Dell and Jobs – had their share of discovering that cruel reality. But there would have been no Microsoft, Dell or Apple, without their role as CEO. Whether someone else would have filled the void or not isn’t in question. There is a time to sow, a time to nurture and a time to harvest but all through these times you need a CEO to ensure the company reaps what it sowed. In summation, here are five important reasons why every business needs a CEO, whether founder or professional.
About the author:
Girish Khare, Director Marketing, Grass Roots India