Wednesday, November 23, 2005

CEOs or Cogs

When I was editing my post yesterday, I spellchecked the entry. Interestingly, the word "cog" came up as a replacement for "CEO." Got me thinking that perhaps employees do view CEOs as cogs in the wheel. I looked up the definition of "cogs" and found : A subordinate member of an organization who performs necessary but usually minor or routine functions.

In all the organizations I have worked, no one ever seems to know what the CEO does all day. People often remark, "Well, what is he/she doing about it?" "He's never here." "She nevers talks to customers. We do all the work." "What does he know about what is really going on? Who does he talk to besides the CFO?" Due to this lack of information on most CEO whereabouts, employees do think that CEOs are cogs in the wheel that perform necessary but minor routines. Perhaps CEOs need to do a better job of filling in employees about their calendars.

Years ago, Cisco CEO John Chambers had a calendar on the Cisco web site indicating when he was visiting employees and customers. I thought it was a good attempt at trying to inform the organization about his schedule. Fortune sometimes shadows CEOs. The recent article on Jeff Immelt in their 75th anniversary issue has a day in the life profile of Immelt's travels and meetings. I thought that this was helpful in better understanding what it really takes to run a Fortune 500 company. The title was, "If It's Tuesday, This Must Be Oslo." (

All those Day in the Life books might have considered shadowing CEOs but when it comes down to it, I tend to think no one would be interested. Although I follow CEOs regularly, most people are less enamored of the CEO class. Yet, a Day in a CEO's Life would be a good exercise for training the next generation of CEOs who might be wondering what a typical CEO day is like. Then these rising stars would get to vote yea or nay.



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