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The 20% CEO

In a recent meeting of Chief Executive Boards International, a member said he was realizing that his accessibility in the office (open door policy -- supposed to be a good thing, right?) had evolved into his getting continuously interrupted and dragged into day-to-day operations. His senior managers found it easy to consult him on decisions they should have been making themselves. (Employees love this -- it exonerates them from accountability for their own decisions if they get the boss's agreement. Or, worse yet, get the boss to make the decision -- total absolution. See: http://www.chiefexecutiveblog.com/2008/02/want-your-employees-to-be-independent.html)

If it wasn't others interrupting him, it was his overhearing conversations in the hallway, and jumping into them himself. Again, a compulsive behavior for many CEOs who realize that they can, in many cases "do it better" than any given employee any given day. In most cases it's a fact. And in most cases, not the best and highest use of the CEO's time.

Then he said something stunning. He said "I actually looked at how I'm spending my time, and discovered that it's on doing a lot of things a CEO shouldn't be doing. In fact, I discovered that my company doesn't have a CEO 80% of the time."

WOW! -- You could have heard a pin drop in that room. It was like he'd taken a 2x4 and whacked most of the other members up the sides of their heads. Members' heads cocked sideways, and I could see the wheels turning as they did their own math. And then the frowns as they didn't like the result. And the pens and pencils scribbling that observation into their meeting notes. In fact, 50% of the members at the meeting listed that one epiphany as something they took away from the meeting.

Be honest. How much of your time is actually logged doing real "CEO stuff"? So, what percentage of the time is your company without a CEO?

If you're a CEBI member, you're at spending at least eight days a YEAR on "CEO stuff". That's more than a lot of midsize business owners, in my experience. If you're not a CEBI member, give a listen to what member Harry Loyle has to say about that question, among other things: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4aKoYfbiSos I know Harry's company is not without a CEO 80% of the time.

If you've discovered your company is without a CEO for more than 25% of the time, click "Comments" below and let us know what you were doing with the other 75%. And how you're going to change those habits so your company has the CEO it deserves -- the majority of the time.

Terry Weaver
Chief Executive Boards International
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