Last week I introduced you to another CEO failure mode: the Total Control CEO, who is so afraid of making a mistake that he or she tries to control every decision, no matter how big or small. While no one likes the Total Control CEO, it is also possible to go overboard in the other direction.
Since micromanagement became a popular topic in business books and MBA programs, many executives believe they must avoid it all costs. This effort to not micromanage everything causes some people to totally disengage from the day-to-day activities and results of the organization. They figure: “If I can’t control everything, why should I worry about anything?” This often takes the form of what I call the Master Strategist CEO.
This type of CEO believes that coming up with a winning strategy is all that matters. Once they have imparted this grand strategy to the organization, their modus operandi is to sit back and watch, because they believe everything else is trivial. This CEO is so removed from the day-to-day flow of the organization that they don’t see a problem developing until it is too late. Then they blame the employees for failing to do the simple things necessary to execute their brilliant strategy.The mental image I have for the Master Strategist CEO comes from a popular Internet image: That of a donkey connected to a cart that the donkey was supposed to pull. The only problem is that the cart has been overloaded with so much weight that it caused the cart to tip backwards leaving the donkey stranded 6 feet in the air. I have seen CEOs whose first reaction would be to blame the donkey!
In my next CEO failure mode post, I’ll discuss how to balance between the paranoia of the Total Control CEO and the laissez-faire attitude of the Master Strategist CEO.