CEOs of companies of all sizes face huge challenges today. The rate at which technology alone is changing is amazing and the CEO is expected to keep up if they are going to continue to stay cutting edge, keep their project on track. Today’s CEO is challenged in a way that no CEOs were challenged before. Technology is changing and too fast for even the CIO of an organization to keep up with, let alone the CEO. Yet those critical decisions of company direction, how and where to grow the business, and what new technology to incorporate ultimately falls in the lap of the CEO.
How does one person do it? The right answer is, they don’t. It’s critical for the CEO to be surrounded by the right people to help him make good decisions for the company, to know what projects to enter into and how they should be managed, and how the funds of the organization should be appropriated. Just like an employee has to answer to their manager or management team, likewise the CEO is subject to the guidance, oversight, and decision-making of his board of directors. Everyone is accountable to someone.
CEOs make the tough calls
The CEO is far more than a figurehead. And in smaller organizations they are often still very hands on in the day-to-day function of the company they may have helped create or even created themselves in their own garage. The CEO must make sound decisions on what new market niches to attack. He’ll look to his marketing team and expect the right decisions will be made based on their analysis of the industry, but ultimately he’s responsible. Depending on the size of the organization, the CEO may be involved in nearly every piece of information and nearly every decision that gets made for the organization….it can be mind-boggling.
And yes, in a technical organization especially, but also in nearly all organizations, the CEO must still also make sound technology decisions. He’ll look to the CIO or IT Director for their input on what direction to take, what technology to acquire, who to partner with, etc., but ultimately it’s his decision and the target is on his head.
When working with clients, the CEO will look to the project management office (PMO) and specifically the PMO Director on good direction for how to manage projects, what software to use and whether to go web-based or desktop. He’ll expect that the PMO Director is overseeing the full portfolio of projects and that competent project managers are in place to provide that customer-facing client management relationship. But, again, ultimately it’s the CEOs responsibility to manage the business. And if things go south on projects, he’ll get the calls from the most visible, vocal and high dollar customers.
So, how does the CEO get guidance? He must reach out and network, just like every management level below him in the organization. He needs to reach out just like project managers have their PMO and PMI chapters to network with. Just like CIOs and marketing VPs have their networking groups. But how does the CEO network?
There are networking options available
CEOs – they do have play dates for you, too. You’re not an island unto yourselves….there are opportunities for you to network or “get out and play” with other kids….I mean CEOs. In order to network with other CEOs and share knowledge, guidance, issues, concerns, frustrations and success stories, today’s CEO does have a few options. They may consider joining a CEO network and swapping ideas with other presidents on topics ranging from how to deal with employee issues to the best way to grow your business and manage your projects in today’s rapidly evolving world of technology.
There are CEO networking groups which have local chapters, hold actual meetings and most profess to provide the ability to meet with a group of CEO peers to discuss tough issues and new approaches to problems. Another option is connecting with like-minded professionals, presidents, and C-level executives on social media groups like LinkedIn. With LinkedIn, the CEO can specifically join groups that will allow for discussions, news and interactions with similar professionals facing similar issues. Along with the CEO networking groups available on social media, the technically curious and/or technically savvy CEO will find many of his colleagues as members in other groups on that focus on project management, IT, and technology.
For the CEO to keep his organization at the top and to continue to realize success on projects with his very important customers, then it’s critical that he stay up to date in terms of process and technology. And often the best way to do that is to move out of his own company comfort zone and network with like-minded CEOs and IT professionals in the marketplace. This may be the best way to ensure that his customers are well cared for and that his organization’s projects – especially technology projects – are successful on an ongoing basis.