The Chief Executive Officer position though tremendously gratifying is harder than ever before to successfully sustain because of a myriad of either difficult to manage or largely uncontrollable external factors versus a somewhat more traditional inside or internal focus. This may be illustrated by CEO public company longevity, that used to be slightly under nine years in job vs the present CEO job tenure of four plus years.

The CEO position management requirements for economic success vary considerably based on numerous factors including, size of enterprise (e.g. $5 million versus $5 billion), publicly listed or private company, specific industry (service, retail, manufacturing, real estate, or other sector), products produced and markets served, intangible or tangible offering, R&D & engineering intense vs sales & marketing driven, long cycle (e.g. turbine engines) or short cycle (commercial printing or fast food franchise), production process (continuous flow, i.e. chemical industry) vs job shop or project work, etc …

CEO leadership and cultural imperatives normally remain more constant or universal than management processes & procedures. There is a certain pre-disposition at Augustus Group that ‘management’ comes a bit closer to science and that ‘leadership’ is closer to an art form. Effective successful CEOs inevitably are a blend of both but there is always a directional tilt. The art of leadership has been well articulated by Max De Pree, (former CEO of Herman Miller Co in Grand Rapids) as, “liberating people to do what is required of them in the most effective and humane way possible.”

In any event the following list while by no means breakthrough thinking, stands the test of time as nearly universal imperatives for high functioning CEOs:

  1. Satisfy company financial mission (EPS management for a public company or lender covenant compliance for a private company).
  2. Customer development, satisfaction, and retention.
  3. Coherent strategy and growth vision.
  4. Define appropriate technologies for markets served and products produced.
  5. Values and culture integrity and sensitivity.
  6. Organizational development and harvesting human capital.
  7. Motivating employees and developing their career paths.
  8. CAPEX prioritization, (nice to have versus mission critical).
  9. M&A literacy, timing, and effectiveness.
  10. Financial reporting and accounting transparency.
  11. Successful communication ability with all constituencies, internal and external.
  12. Public policy and regulatory attention and compliance.
  13. Communications skills and an ability to persuade.