By Kathleen E. Murphy
Chief Executive Officers (CEO’s) hold the proverbial keys to the kingdom of success of a company in numerous ways. However, their company is only as strong and successful as the management team they are working with, and whether this team is fully invested in supporting their CEO. One large mistake CEO’s have been known to make is to not take the time to meet with and have a conversation with each of their management executives to find out the driving forces and motivational reasons behind why they work for them, and the company. Excluding a descent salary, there need to be other factors behind what will allow the CEO to have a high retention rate on their team. Having a high retention rate will be critical to the CEO and the Board of Directors in numerous scenarios, one of them being when the company is doing a “big deal”, and this can be a sales deal, a partner deal or perhaps ultimately selling the company.
Besides having a strong valuation on paper and revenue numbers which are attractive from an investment perspective, one of the key elements to why one company would be interested in another is what I will refer to as the “story telling” ability. Often the CEO or COO is responsible for being able to articulate and verbally paint a picture about why their company is so desirable and why their value proposition sets them apart from their competition. There is clearly an art to storytelling, and if a CEO or the person in charge of telling the “story” is not practiced and strong at doing this, their company runs the risk of being overlooked, or worse, dismissed from moving onto the next phase of where they desire to be.
When a company is jockeying for position to be sold, it is critical the CEO sheds their “selfishness cape/coat”, and thinks and takes into account how many other people contributed to getting them to the place they are. No one person is ever 100% responsible for the success or demise of a company, but the success of a company is largely dependent on having one or two people on the executive management team who can guide the CEO, particularly when they are in situations they have limited to no experience in.
The skill elements required from those who provide guidance to the CEO are numerous, but at the top of the list is being a good listener. Possessing a high emotional intelligence level, being strategic, having the ability to see the “big picture”, knowing how to guide the CEO and company via transitions and understanding the tangible and intangible aspects of the business and its valuation are also essential skills. Fully having mastered the art of hiring, motivating and managing human capital while also having mastered the science of business operations skills are critical too.
It is also imperative for the person guiding the CEO to know how to grow a small company into a mid to large size company, have the ability to wear many “hats” within the organization as required and appreciate and acknowledge the hard work and skills required by others to perform well in their roles. Additionally, it is critical to know how to motivate both the CEO and the rest of the company members – especially when they are working exceptionally hard or in phases of growth which are difficult. Helping the CEO to keep their eye on the “end game” or ultimately what would be the best outcome for both the CEO and the rest of the management team and company is also essential to the demise or success of the company.
So, when a deal of any kind is about to transpire, it is critical for the CEO to remember who helped them to get to the point they are at, especially since the people who do so are like their second family. If the CEO does not think their employees are like their second family, then they need to do some serious sole searching, as the people who work for them are not working for them simply because they like to work there. They are working either to support the CEO, the product or because of the company value proposition and mission, or some form of a combination of these.
Taking care of your “family” is always the right thing to do, so make sure this is fully understood, embraced and put into practice by the CEO. Having your “work family” to support you in times of need are critical, and having them there to celebrate with you in times of when you can be celebrating is the best feeling ever. No amount of money will ever make celebrating alone worthwhile or meaningful. Ultimately you want your employees to be well taken care of, and only the CEO has the final say of making this a reality. Don’t make the mistake of being greedy, as it will never provide you with satisfaction, and you will likely need key members of your “work family team” to help you in the future. As the old saying goes, “don’t ever burn your bridges”, especially over money matters.
Kathleen E. Murphy is the Founder, Chief Strategist and CMO of Market Me Too. Market Me Too has expertise in bridging marketing and sales teams and providing organizations techniques to accelerate their market growth, regardless of the industry they are in, or the business stage they are presently at. Contact Kathleen at firstname.lastname@example.org.