If you spend more than a few minutes in front of an airport magazine rack or the business section of your local book store’s business section, you’ll gain some interesting and completely contradictory input about the job description of the modern CEO. Some traditional thinkers effectively consign the CEO to the accounting department with an assignment to create shareholder value. In this age of Sarbanes Oxley, you could build a case the the the CEO is really the CCO–chief compliance officer. (There’s nothing like the spectre of being taken off in handcuffs to make something a priority). At the same time, you’ll see headlines and book titles about the importance of innovation and recruiting. Both are important aspects of the CEO’s job but neither is “the” most important part of the job description. Much closer is a phrase that I first heard from Pat McGovern, himself a proven entrepreneur and founder of the B2B infortmation company International Data Group. He once said that his job as CEO was to be the Chief Encouragement Officer. His perspective was that he had hired great people and his primary responsibility was to encourage them to do great things. It’s hard to argue with that logic, particularly when it comes from a man who has successfully ridden out the storms and cycles of business for more than forty years. So let me instead try to blend Pat’s perspective into my own.
The CEO, in spite of whatever other tasks he or she must do each day, is the Chief Growth Officer of their business.
Does that sound like your job description? It probably does. AllBusiness.com is in the process of analyzing the results from our new market research study. There is a wealth of wonderful information about what’s on the minds of the people who start and grow American Business. But there’s one theme that comes through loud and clear–business is about growth. Like a shark that needs to swim or die, a business must grow or die.
Over the next few entries in this blog I’ll talk about why every healthy business needs to be focused on growth and the various aspects of growth.