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The Accountable CEO

As the CEO who are you accountable to? Most CEOs are accountable to the Board of Directors.

Some say they are accountable to their employees or customers. But in most small and mid-sized businesses they are really only accountable to themselves. That is because they are usually the Chairman of the Board and personally selected the other members of the board, who are in most cases friends or family members.

There is some truth to the CEO being accountable to the employees. They are definitely looking to the CEO to make the decisions to keep the business viable and their jobs secure. Also, they would like the CEO to treat all employees fairly, give them a safe and challenging work environment, and pay a competitive wage. But it is highly unlikely they would confront the CEO about not doing these things or the things mentioned below. In times of full employment they may just leave, usually without sharing the real reason.

Customers definitely hold the CEO accountable for the quality of the service or products they furnish or for specific commitments they make, but they don’t usually get involved in the day to day activities of your business.

Most CEOs have things in their job they need or should do that are unpleasant or they are not good at doing. Some examples might be doing performance reviews, monitoring and getting involved with accounts receivables issues, terminating or dealing with a marginal performer, meeting with customers to form a stronger relationship, or developing a business plan for the next year. Who will hold the CEO accountable for doing these in a timely fashion? Will it make a difference to the company’s performance and viability?

The answer to that rhetorical question is a definite “Yes”. All the things mentioned are extremely important if you want to have a successful business. Most CEOs know this and still procrastinate or fail to take the necessary action in some of these areas. If you are one of these:

Actions to take now:

  1. Identify three things you know you should be doing to help your business but aren’t.

  2. Decide what actions you will take in those areas; be very specific.

  3. Tell your key staff you are committed to doing these things and give them a specific date when you will start and/or complete them.

  4. Ask the boldest and most confident one of your staff to hold you accountable for doing these things.

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