The CEO’s Perspective Is A Choice

If you think the central purpose of the CEO — the chief manager/leader of the organization — is to maximize the EBIT or stock price or EPS or return on stockholder equity, or to make his/her organization one of the Fortune 100 Best Companies to Work For, think again.

Each of these important measures is an element of the CEO’s performance.  Yet, unless the CEO is centrally and obviously focused on (a) fulfillment of the corporate mission, and (b) optimizing the performance capacity of the organization to fulfill the mission (mission-readiness), the influence of the CEO is probably confusing, at best. With apologies to Carville and Clinton: It’s about the mission, stupid!

The mission is the point of the spear, the central aiming element, the reason for being — economically and spiritually.  The mission is the difference one intends to make in the lives of those one serves. (See: Strategic Terminology.)

Peter Drucker pointed out that managing as if the mission of the business is growing profits, is similar to living like the purpose of life is to eat. He pointed out that profits are not the purpose of an organization, and if profits are superior to the mission, the whole corporate enterprise risks customer defection in the contrasting light of a more customer-oriented competitor.

As a business growth consultant, I’ll admit some assignments are just too much fun. I love the challenge of beating a competitor who sees profits as the mission, has minimized its value proposition, has disrespected its customers and is working really, really hard to minimize customer service. Then, I find it mighty enjoyable to increase mission alignment and grow mission-readiness, in anticipation of customer referrals, market share, and margin growth. Oo-Whee!!!

Let’s focus on supporting the C-Suite managers/leaders that “get it.” These times call for pointed reminders of how to hit the ball really well. So, in the weeks ahead, let’s focus on practical actions and emphases that CEOs find disproportionately powerful in managing and leading successfully.

Next week, look for a guest article by best-selling author, Chip Bell on the changing role of the customer, and its implications for organizational change.

Do your actions reinforce the importance of mission and the vital importance of growing the organization’s mission-readiness? Or, do you act vaguely or disrespectfully toward “the mission” — your mission, your team’s mission?  What do your associates learn from you about the relationship between profits and mission?