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Tuesday, April 14, 2009

CEO Leadership in Uncertain Times

Below is the 3rd of a number of posts over this week based on my review of Ram Charan’s important new book: Leadership in the Era of Economic Uncertainty,McGraw Hill, 2009. ~Please pass it along to colleagues who could benefit from this information.

CEO: From Chief of Strategy and Visionary to Commandant in the War Room

CEOs must step up and lead. It’s more about rolling up their sleeves than rolling out the red carpet. The best example (mine, not Charan’s) was the time the big three automaker CEOs all flew to Washington DC to ask for a cash bailout. But, they flew in private jets! JUST PLAIN NUTS…are the only words that come to mind. The game has clearly changed. So what should they be doing, according to Charan? Here a few of the many he suggests:

1. Recognize Reality: Things are tough, but fear is a killer because it freezes people in their tracks. Inaction becomes a disease that undermines the economy. On the other hand, CEOs have to acknowledge that we’re in for a ride that will last at least a few years.

2. Protect the Core: CEOs have to identify core elements, assets, customers, and leaders who must be protected as the storm is weathered and the new day emerges.

3. Be Transparent: The time for clear and plain communication is now. In fact, Charan argues that the two big responsibilities of CEOs in such uncertain times is information flow and motivation.

4. Other important areas that Charan comments on in this section are as follows: Be Bold, Change Your Company’s Psychology, Reallocate Your Time, Reassess Your Top Team, Be Visible, Know the Daily Numbers, Manage Cash, Reduce the Break-even Point, Par Your Customer and Supplier Base, Know When to Change Your Strategy, and Set Shorter-Term Milestones.

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