Wednesday, March 02, 2011

What Kind Of CEO You Have In Your Company?

The headline question applies to you, whether in the company you are currently in or be it in the companies you have invested in. It also applies to the state investing authorities, be it you having control of the companies or is just a substantial shareholder. It also applies if your are the majority shareholder or have inherited the company from your parents.

We need to ask the question seriously because the CEO is the driver and whether your company is going to the next level, staying stagnant, deteriorate or stay competitive is largely determined by your choice of CEO and how you "treat" him/her.

You may have your CEO from any one of the following categories, or even qualifies for more than a couple of the categories:

a) the veteran - somebody who has stayed a very long time in the company, rose from the lower rungs, proven himself; the danger is the person may only be good at following instructions and is too insulated; this category is more important 20-30 years ago, not so much now.

b) product savvy guy - this person can be from the company or a competitor but has very strong indepth product knowledge, depending on your industry, deep product knowledge is an asset but should not be the overriding factor in choosing a CEO.

c) the marketing genius - proven himself/herself as a great marketer, clocking in great numbers, usually a great delegater as well, not a critical factor but an asset

d) nepotism - Nepotism is favoritism granted to relatives or friends regardless of merit. A way to keep power and control within friends and relatives; I don't think I need to elaborate on how terrible this is, the key is "regardless of merit"; what kind of employees do you think you will have in that kind of structure

e) a leader with charisma - a very important ingredient; much of which can be taught but natural born leaders with charisma are harder to find and way better; the qualities are critical just as in lining up a ship to head in the right direction; great leaders will empower their staff, employees will feel they have the ability to stretch, be motivated and have close access to the top, not "closed access" to the top

f) founder / major shareholders - this is a poor way to choose a CEO; a great founder or person who controls a company should have the ability to hire a great CEO; a weak one will hire a CEO that he/she can control / a puppet with strings

g) empowered CEO - a lot of CEOs in this country are not empowered; they do not have the luxury or freedom to act as a bona fide CEO; they are "restricted / needs prior approval / have marked boundaries", you know who they are

h) cross industries experience - we have not seen much of this yet in this country, we always hire back the same sheeps from the same fields' we do not yet value experience gained from otehr industries; if someone has proven themselves in 3 or 4 different industries, rest assured they can manage and grow in most industries because the essence of a CEO is not product knowledge but understanding how companies work, how to rely and manage with financials and risk management, and how to manage and hire people well - the latter 3 factors are prime critical CEO factors

i) corporate finance / M&A - increasingly a more important skill set, but will be useless without the critical factors, more of an asset for now

j) the strategist - seemingly a soft skill set but to me is a critical CEO factor; to be able to think outside the box, being able to think two or three steps ahead; being able to anticipate the competition and their strengths and weaknesses; think of ways to bolster a company's competitive platform to keep it ahead of the curve all the time; a pragmatist

l) done no wrong - this kind has been creeping into a lot of government linked companies; because so many CEOs have failed or combusted spectacularly, they will then move to the side of caution and appoint those who have "done no wrong"; wrong, a very wrong way to choose a CEO

m) the entrepreneur - this kind of CEO has entrepreneurial thinking, not that they founded or control the company but has shown a propensity to take calculated risks and challanges; you need that spirit in a great CEO

Now, you should be able to tell what kind of CEO you have in the companies that you may have an interest in. Great ones will be able to elevate their company to the next level.


tanhc said...

Warren Buffet says that a CEO is also a CRO[Chief Risk Officer]. If he fails in managing risks for the company, he should go away poor. He was probably referring to the fat CEOs from the sub-prime cisis era.
His comment is just as applicable to CEOs all over the financial world. It's very true what you said about the driver: one who is inefficient and of mediocre calibre is not going to take the company anywhere. CEOs should be paid for what they are really worth!
Capable and great CEOs who can think out of the box should be well-rewarded and treasured!

wiggle17 said...

Well, I had a CEO who is a founder and a major shareholder of a coy listed in the KLSE. He was a successful businessman but a complete idiot as a CEO as far as I am concern. He only accepts "aye" sayers and could not accept any opinion which is different from his. I think they are such CEOs are so egoistic that they think they are God. I have no doubr that this coy will head for disaster pretty soon...