Monday, September 30, 2013

Ruin Your Company: As CEO, be as vague as possible

Ruin Your Company series introduction. For the humor-impaired, the text in italics is sarcasm.

As the CEO, you have achieved the pinnacle of your career. You have networked, self-promoted and blown-out out of proportion (ehem, I mean rebranded) your minor successes ( plus the successes of a few other people) all the way up to the top. Basically now, 'work' is for other people.
Trust yourself when you think that being a CEO is about being vague. People should know how to do their work, so why should you provide a clear direction? The company will drive itself. Just point to Success, Profit and Market Leadership and the people who work for you will get you there. Call this: Demanding Results.
In fact, focus on Demanding Results. Leave the execution to other people working for you. Trust in the fact that someone in the company loves their job or cares enough about their job that they will do it well. Utilize these resources and trust your managers / empower them / let them take the responsibility for the fallout.
Explains the details enough so that your managers know you mean business and no more. You can further ensure this by making it clear how you want success to be achieved. It doesn't matter if the how doesn't connect with the what of the results. That's someone else job to fill in the details. Remember, yours is to be vague and Demand Results.
But if you see yourself as the hands-on CEO, don't stop at Demanding Results. Continue on to specifying the expected results in vague terms. Make sure the people who work for you know that you expect them to know the details of what you expect, just don't them what it is. Remember, don't stop being vague. 
As a guide, here are some way how you can be consistently vague
  • Answer questions with another question and demand your questions be answered first. Repeat if the answer is provided promptly
  • If you have to be truthful, do so in as few words as possible. Remember: details are someone else's job. (People say that the devil is in the details, so avoinding details avoids the devil, right?)
  • when people working for you ask for details, demonstrate leadership by providing answers that are ambiguous and filled with buzzwords. Remind them that keeping up with the meaning of buzzwords is their job and that you can't be expected to do everything
  • if you have to provide details, provide specifics on the general topic instead. The two do not have to related. Making the relationship is the job of the people around you. Everybody confuses the details with specifics
  • when details are discussed in your presence, act uninterested and focus on something else because it most likely not related to you
As CEO, you understand that being a CEO is generalist job. It is about management or the how of managing. You don't have to know anything about the industry you are in. When someone thinks you do, take another company doing the same things and use them as a comparison. This technique is successful because it works either way. Validate your success by comparing with another less successful company. When you need to provide direction, take a more successful company and point out that to achieve the same success, it requires doing the same things that company did.
As CEO, you must focus on your success. Measure this by your compensation. Only a successful company can provide you with the compensation package you demand of them. If the company is able to continue to do so, it is a clear demonstration that it is doing well. When the company is doing well, your job is done. 


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