The Eagle Blog

The Role of a CEO

This will be my 12th year running Eagle and each year it seems that the role I play evolves and changes. When we started the company I was President and CEO, Marketing guy, Technology guy, Ottawa sales person, chief cook and bottle-washer. A fairly typical start-up scenario that demands the owner to adopt multiple roles and do whatever it takes to survive.

Over the years the management structure of a company evolves and for me, and most founding CEOs, that means a need to adapt and change with each evolution. For me it meant giving up control, allowing others to run with things and getting further from different parts of the organization … for other founders it can mean giving up the reins.

Its an interesting journey and you learn a lot about yourself. As an owner/founder of a company it is a different dynamic than a “hired gun” and maybe in this role I am prepared to accept more than someone with less “skin in the game”. There is also the danger that I could stay in the role beyond my capabilities, so I need to be honest with myself about whether I am still the right person in the role.

The role of CEO in a not so small private company continues to evolve as the business changes. What at certain points could be a very strategic role, directing and managing growth, developing and championing strategy, cultivating executive relationships can quickly move to a tactical role.

Last year we suffered the pain of a technology change that went off the rails and that caused all of our management team to change our roles as we battled our way through a tough time. As CEO I found myself up to my ears in the day to day operations of the company as our President managed the conversion project to our current supplier.

Currently, six months after moving to our current environment we head into a training session that will take us to the next level of productivity with our systems. I am up to my ears in developing content, and creating a program that I will deliver in a couple of weeks. So the Eagle CEO will be the sales trainer!

The point of this blog entry is to give you an insight into my experience as a CEO, I don’t think it is vey different from other CEOs of private companies. The bottom line is that we do what we need to do in order for our companies to remain successful … we roll our sleeves up and make things happen.

Next month I will move back to the more traditional CEO role of planner, organise, controller and coordinator as described by Henry Mitzberg. Of course if its needed, I’ll be taking on a different role!

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