Kanan Jaswal's Blog on Leadership

Friday, March 28, 2008

Does a new CEO have to bring his* own coterie?

(* My use of ‘his’, ‘he’ and ‘him’ is gender neutral)

It is not unusual for a new chief executive officer, if an outsider to the organisation, to come with his old team of trusted senior lieutenants that was with him in his previous assignment and in the previous company. Obviously, like that the new c.e.o. feels more secure and comfortable and starts delivering from an early date. Perhaps better performance could be reflected in the quarterly results from the second or third quarter itself. The share holders and the board of directors would be happy for the change.

But what more does it say of the new c.e.o. – that he has started his new innings with the presumption that he can not get the existing set of senior functionaries to cooperate with him, that he is not trusting them, that he lacks confidence in his own ability to adjust to new circumstances without the soothing sight of familiar faces around him?

And the effect of this mass scale induction of new management team on the employees’ morale can not be anything less than damaging. By a single stroke of the board of directors’ pen, the employees have lost many of the top executives they had been working with and working for. Adjusting to the leadership, management and work styles of a new c.e.o. is bad enough, here they have to do this for more than one c.x.o. Some senior people have to leave, some others are moved sideways, some find their chances of promotion and other advancement blocked. Much worse than this all is that for the employees the new management team becomes an outsider. It is a very large number of ‘us’ versus a very small number of ‘them’, and this emotional segregation is not going to help the company. It is an ugly reality of short-termism and is designed to do damage to the larger and real interests of the organisation.
Any new c.e.o. worth his salt should able to inspire the existing management team and employees to offer their best for the betterment of the company and for achieving the various performance objectives

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