Some of the worst decisions made by directors and managers in organisations are those that are made out of selfish interests. The seeming need for power, for being in control and for establishing a dynasty for oneself drives irresponsible behaviour – grabbing at sections of the budget allocated for other meaningful exploits, manipulating relationships to position oneself, holding on to unnecessary human and other resources which could have been employed more effectively elsewhere in the business, not delegating appropriately, thus creating a disempowered environment with all power and control being vested in a single person, with-holding important information, etc. The list seems to be endless. Bad decisions lead to valuable dollars being thrown at dysfunctionality rather than at creativity, innovation and development. Employees become demoralised and the company becomes less profitable than its true potential.

Wise directors and managers, on the other hand, always look to the vision, mission, values and strategy of the company as a decision-making framework, almost asking the question: “If I was the CEO of this company, what decision would I be making on behalf of the company at this time?” They would be using the “If I was the CEO…” paradigm in five distinct areas:

  1. What decisions are the members of the board hoping we will make? What are the key business metrics that focus the board’s attention continuously? What decisions should I be making to assist all areas of the business in becoming more efficient and effective? In what areas of the business does the board hope that we can make savings?
  2. What people decisions need to be made? Are all employees engaged and contributing fully to business objectives? Are there any areas of my team where staff are not performing to their fullest potential and how might that be corrected? Is there anyone that needs coaching or further assistance?
  3. What communication decisions need to be made? Does everyone have a clear understanding of the bigger picture and the future intentions of the business? Does everyone grasp and apply the compliance, behaviour and performance expectations? Are our values being lived, particularly in relation to upholding the dignity of employees and meeting customer expectations?
  4. What systems and processes decisions need to be made? Are all our systems and processes perfectly aligned to get the results for which we are hoping? Are we using floor space and other resources optimally? Are our supply chain and distribution channels working well for us? Can we better the strategic flow of our business operations?
  5. What growth and development decisions need to be made? Do we understand our market and what do we need to do to grow our footprint? Are our sales, marketing and advertising efforts focused and effective? Are we relating to and connecting with our customers? Are we listening well to them? Are we truly meeting their needs?

All directors and managers need to focus on the “if I was the CEO …” paradigm in order to make decisions unselfishly. Focus should be targeted on business imperatives and future growth aspirations, not the development of silos and other selfish pursuits. “If I was the CEO …” thinking leads to holistic and more complete business growth decisions.

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