For the past 15 years I have been privileged to work with a number of CEOs and Presidents. When I get to know them, it becomes clear that they universally want to achieve great things for their company and people. But the higher up they are in their respective organizations, the less connection they have to what is really happening in their company. Their priorities become much more externally and board driven. This is their job. It makes sense. They can become isolated and cocooned in the executive suite and they mostly spend their time with people like them. Often they live in the same neighborhood or town as most of their team. All of this is understandable. It is also dangerous. Because when you are no longer routinely spending time with your rank and file, you also become much more distant from your customers. And that is dangerous.
This is a part of what I have come to think of as "CEOitis". Thankfully, though it is a prevalent condition, it is eminently treatable.
There are a lot of ways to ensure that you keep connected to the pulse of your organization. The standard round tables and listening tours are fine especially if they are unscripted. A rigorous skip level process can help as well. But nothing replaces leaving your office and meeting people where they work, being curious about their experiences and spending time with people who actually deal with your customers. If that is not possible due to the demands of your role, then make sure that your team is routinely out and about in your organization. Listen to what they hear and respond to it in ways that let your employees know they matter. Never forget that you have entrusted them with caring for your customers, representing your business and securing your ongoing success.
Welcome to Moira's blog. I write a (mostly) monthly post about the work of building better work places: people strategies, systems, teams and leaders.