In our role as organizational psychologists who work with large organizations and their CEOs, we consistently portray the requisites for success in the role as one of a mixture of confidence, competence, and change management. We don’t trouble ourselves, or our clients, with the degree of each that is necessary but we are of the opinion that it takes a large measure of each of these significant traits in order to be successful in the role as well as to assist in the important process of bringing success to the businesses that the CEOs are managing. Regrettably, the WSJ has published a series of commentary pieces recently that seem to be intent on causing CEOs and other managers to give pause to the adequate practice of management. The latest is titled, “Confident or Overconfident?” Really – ? In our fifteen plus years of working with CEOs, overconfidence is not something that we have had to worry about. Instilling an appropriate level of confidence – or, the willingness to “go for the gold” when needed – has been something that we have, at times, worked on with our clients. But we just don’t see clients who are suffering from overconfidence. Of course, we work with large corporations, so it’s possible that if there had been overconfidence displayed earlier in the careers of our clients, the tendency has been corrected by the time they rise to the big jobs in the big corporations. Two of the questions from the WSJ piece are instructive regarding the quality of the work and effort (or lack of it) that was put into writing the piece as well as the knowledge of the individual doing the writing: one is, How much time do I really spend listening? and another is, Do I originate most of the ideas? The “listening” question makes me think that I have somehow gotten side-tracked into a kindergarten class for managers – how much time spent listening – ? As much time as it takes to get the information that the CEO needs and as little time as possible. In case you’re shocked reading this comment, the real reason a manager listens is to gain information that he might need for doing his job. He’s not a psychologist or a social worker that is supposed to sit down with any and all and listen. There are professionals on his staff that can supply that role. But he does need to keep in touch with his people and hear what it is that they know or have discovered that will be an asset in making the business work better. And the second question is more of the same drivel – supposedly, if the CEO generates all the ideas, his people will “go silent.” Well, I can assure the writer of this piece that that will never happen in a well-functioning organization – the CEO will never generate all of the ideas and his staff will not “go silent.” It’s the nature of a robust organization that the CEO is constantly trolling for ideas and better ways of doing things. He certainly will have a lot of ideas of how to make things work, himself – otherwise, he wouldn’t be in that role. But he will constantly be on the look-out for “new things under the sun.” And, in this day and age – to say that staff will “go silent” – ? Please. Not in a modern organization – quite the opposite is the case – staff will keep talking to try to get their points across. So, a word to all managers/CEOs and other leaders: Ignore the shrinking violets of the world who would have you cower in your chair in your corner office. And, make the most of every opportunity to instigate confidence, competence and the skills associated with change management.
All my Best to All of You – Who Prove Daily That You Know How to Do Things Well in the Management World!