More often than not, it is the CEO or Founder who makes the workplace dysfunctional. Most of us have been there or are headed there. Left to their own devices, such leaders end up making the company or organization equally dysfunctional and dysfunctional companies under-perform.
So how do you manage a dysfunctional CEO? Let’s find out..
Spotting a dysfunctional CEO is very easy. They are driven by their own motivations, be it ego, seeking recognition or a need to show power. Identifying them may be easy but successful management is the real trick.
Removing the CEO
The CEO getting fired by the board is the most common resolution. As a low-level employee, you may have to subtly ingratiate yourself to members of the board and try to make them see reason but this needs a lot of tact and wisdom. This is not always as easy as it sounds since there is no graceful way to fire the CEO. You may even find yourself getting fired instead. A personal vote against a fellow member of the board is likely to result in animosity and very hard feelings in the circle of directors, and most of them will steer clear of the intervention. This is why it is very important to have a world class board to make such tough calls.
The sad reality is that most of these CEOs are victims of poor role models or poor feedback from employees and given a chance they could be really good leaders. The board can speak to the CEO about his or her behavior and elicit a positive change, but this may not always work as many CEOs will get the impression that they are being victimized. The problem with feedback from the board is that it is based on overall results of the company and impressions at board meetings. Specific feedback on how to lead and inspire people, how to solve conflict or the need to change their attitude can only come from the employees. Most companies, however, lack mechanisms through which employees can give the CEO honest feedback. It is important for a leader to hear about his or her blind spots regularly so as to constantly make a point to work on them.
Suck it Up
Sometimes dysfunctional CEOs get results, and the harsh truth is that organizations exist to serve the shareholders and customers, not to appease thin-skinned employees. As insensitive as it sounds, the board’s and shareholder’s main priority is results, and if that means dealing with a dysfunctional CEO who meets targets then that becomes a necessary evil.
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