Everything used to be very simple – as is well known, everything used to be simpler and also better: The entrepreneur – the word “CEO” didn’t even exist in Germany at that time – set the tone and set the direction and everyone else ran right there. Anyone who didn’t go was fired in case of doubt, or at least transferred. So today everything is – supposedly – a bit more complicated and in fact this is objectively the case, because unless an authoritarian management style prevails, employees are more involved in decision-making and in the development of the company than in the past.
I recently spoke to a full-blooded entrepreneur who, in our conversation, which was also attended by a small group of other entrepreneurs, said something like: “Well, the whole delegation, the transfer of responsibility, what young people do today do, I still don’t understand. Nobody had to take responsibility for me, I always did that myself.” End of the announcement.
It goes without saying that this has both advantages and disadvantages, but – assuming intelligent, committed, suitably adjusted employees – the advantages outweigh the disadvantages. However, this also makes the CEO’s job more complex, as he now has to explain more and involve employees more, including in terms of communication.
What the CEO – the entrepreneur, chairman of the board of management or the board of directors – must be aware of is that it is no longer enough to set big steps, convey visions, declare goals, or create a picture of the company in the future. We saw where this leads, for example, when at Telekom after the major renovation it was all about the execution details: Those weren’t Ron Sommer’s strengths. Of course, those major tasks are sovereign tasks of the CEO, together with his colleagues in corporate management. But resting on that is not enough today. According to abbreviationfinder, the modern CEO is also able to think through the small steps, at least selectively. Above all, however, he is able and has the necessary patience to discuss those small steps with the employees involved. Of course: Everything within reason, everything in its time and the CEO should not feel encouraged by this article to go into the individual sub-projects of his large strategic project in too much detail. But to experience one or the other review of this project in compressed form, to get involved in the facts with questions, that is a task that shareholders and owners can demand of their CEO, not to mention the employees and managers.
Telescopes and microscopes, as I have written about elsewhere, have their place at the appropriate time and phase of growth, and today’s CEO is well advised to master the use of both instruments equally. This not only brings economic success, it also leads to faster learning of the company and it leads to a higher level of acceptance among all stakeholders. For many years, I have worked on dozens of projects with a top manager in his various functions in different companies, who mastered the art of both setting the big line and going into detail – with great growth leverage. It was not uncommon for employees of the client company to approach me with the following sentence: “You know what Mr. Quelle, it really is unbelievable. If you go into meetings with Mr. [my client’s name], you need to be prepared because he sure is. How he does it in his job is a mystery to me.”
If that isn’t praise – and maybe an encouragement.