Monday, June 19, 2006

A CEO Doesn't Decide Everything

My CEO pulled out his corporate Amex to pay for dinner. The waiter politely told him the restaurant did not accept Amex, so he pulled out his personal Visa, shaking his head. "You know, I always thought we should have a corporate Visa instead of American Express."

My jaw dropped a little. "You're the CEO. Can't you just send out a memo and get it changed?"

The CEO considered the question a moment before answering. "You know once you're a CEO you find that corporations have a life of their own. There is only so much you can change at any one time, and there are only so many hours in the day, so you have to pick your battles and let the rest of the corporation run on its own."

This was a great statement. There is no way for a CEO to micro-manage all the details of a corporation. Plus, he has buildings full of people making decisions and running things, and dictating policy will just create dissension and a poor culture.

But it also made me consider this: if you need to elevate something to the upper ranks, make sure it becomes an important enough battle for the CEO to fight. Otherwise you'll be out there on your own.

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