The CEO-The Other Side


The aspiration of anybody who passes though a B-School is to be a CEO. He is the great figure of our times. He is intelligent,powerful,smart and experiences life in ways that other people cannot. It does not hurt that he makes loads of money. The media has stories about these celebrities and their lifestyles which encompass but are not limited to , buying art, diving in Australia and spending the summers in Finland besides driving the latest cars. There is a massive industry of consultants and reporters which thrives on understanding this great animal.
So a couple of years ago, four of us sat down to unravel the mystery of these creatures. Was it genes or parenting or the management school that made them successful? Or was it exceptional communication skills or interpersonal ability or strategic thinking? Or was it all of them?
Arun Sarin of Vodaphone has probably given the best answer , I have come across, to explain the phenomenon. He says to be a CEO you need to be two sigma on the seven or eight key management competencies like analytical ability, communication, interpersonal skills, strategic thinking etc. rather than three sigma on some and one sigma on others.
But coming back to our discussions, we tried to analyse the thirty odd CEOs we knew or had interacted with between us. It was a sad story. Most (may be about four exceptions in the group) of them had reached their positions due to luck or their exceptional maneuvering skills. They were obviously very good in touting every success in their functions as theirs. They were also very good in reading signals and adept in manipulating these signals to their benefits. Several of them were good functional heads but being CEOs was a question mark.
Many of them had no character and were low on integrity.Many misled their phirang bosses shamelessly.
We tend to think that everyone who is a leader or CEO is a great performer. This is not true.If it were true then it would be so simple to choose the leader-just make the best performer your leader or CEO. So the CEOs also did not have sterling performance records also. It was more of a case of being in the right place at the right time and using the environment to suit your own interests.
None of them could be our role models. And here I am talking about the CEOs, of the may be top two hundred employers in the country.
But still at the end of the day the prize of being a CEO is worth it for the influence and satisfaction you can get. So the rat race will go on.

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