It’s easy being the CEO

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In virtually every print business I go into there is one common denominator and that is the Management team, it is either the strength or the weakness of the business, sad to say, but more often than not its the weakness. The common thread is that too many managers specifically those with director in the title, do too much, trust too little and believe they are way more talented than they actually are.

We are all familiar with the phrase “working in the business” rather than “working on the business” and this is the common fault, senior managers are constantly firefighting, getting stressed out working silly hours and not performing to the best of their abilities. This has a knock on effect throughout the whole business, morale suffers and employees get paralyzed with fear…..the fear of speaking up or making the wrong decision.

Leaders of truly successful companies have overcome the need to be seen to be busy. They have realized that taking time out of the business to sit back and look at the big picture, to strategize and tackle the big issues is critical to achieving success. Business leaders like Richard Branson don’t spend all day immersed in the day to day detail of all their brands, it would be a pointless exercise. Instead they employ motivated talented people and trust them to get on with their job, trust is a great motivator, as long as you don’t promote people to their level of incompetence.

Mr Branson instead concerns himself with the big issues, taking the time to consider the options available and then making the right decisions. He creates more value for Virgin in this way than he ever could by getting immersed in the operational detail of his numerous businesses. In fact the job of a major corporate CEO could be described as easy, just attending meetings and events, making decisions and jetting around the world in private planes. Well the fact is, the job is easy, it’s just getting it that’s hard.

It has often taken them 25 years or more to get there, they have put in the hours, coped with the stress, sucked up to the boss they couldn’t stand, worked in the trenches with teams of people, travelled the tough yards, transferred to satellite offices, changed job roles, been part of restructures, over delivered on key projects, blown away existing sales targets. That’s why the job of CEO looks easy, it’s because they have the experience, self-confidence and sheer balls to make the big decisions and lead a company to success.

Business owners need to show leadership by leveraging their experience and taking time out to think and make the right decisions. Success doesn’t come from just hard work and stress it comes from strategy and planning. You either earn and create value from the neck up or the neck down, it’s just a case of understanding which it is.


Neil Falconer – Print Tribe

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