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Friday, 19 July 2013 10:47

Leadership and Change – Are CEOs a roadblock to organisational change?

The esteemed position of corporate  Chief Executive.  With the right occupant, the traditional position of Chief Executive is generally regarded as essential to the continued prosperity and evolution of an organisation.   Or is it?

Our leaders and educators, and those that came before them instructed us in how organisations work.   The models and systems we put in place were largely designed for an age in which the orderly production of goods and services was the dominant economic model for an ever-growing consumer market.  Centralised control and authority inside a hierarchy was the primary enabling structure, and the office of the Chief Executive naturally emerged at its apex.

However, the industrial age as we knew it has been over for decades with the last 30 years creating a new playing field:

  1. Access to information has shifted from the wealthy few to the majority. 
  2. Centralised power and achievement has shifted from the  few in positions of leadership to the individual.
  3. New community values of global interaction, collaboration, transparency, accountability and social responsibility are confronting the closed doors of hierarchy and control.

Yet the hierarchical paradigm  ( no matter how we try to disguise it with self managing teams, collaboration, diversity and other collective action) still dominates the decision making landscape.

Why is it that industrial age structures persist when the pressure for change is so great?

Take a closer look at the traditional expectations of the office of Chief Executive. The very nature of the role demands that the highest accountability and most significant decisions are vested in the role. Whichever way you cut it, the traditional notion of  “CEO” stands between an organisation’s evolution towards true accountability, transparency and collaboration  and its slavery to tradition.

What if the traditional decision making authority of the CEOs was shifted back inside the organisation? Could a large organisation function without the typical role of  CEO as we know it?

Several large organisations are discovering exactly what happens when CEOs step outside their traditional role.

Stay tuned for my next posts where you’ll hear the stories of organisations like Semco of Brazil and HCL Technologies of India to find out how its done. ..

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Di Worrall is an author, social commentator, executive coach and change management consultant. For a FREE subscription to the ezine – Creating a Climate for Change click on the following website