“Seven surprises for new ceos”

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Connecting Leading Business Thought with Coaching Solutions

“Seven Surprises for New CEOs”

Harvard Business Review – October 2004

By Michael E. Porter, Jay W. Lorsch, and Nitin Nohria(Highlighted phrases indicate areas where an experienced
business coach can make a difference)


The CEO’s job is different and more complicated than even the best-prepared new chiefexecutive imagines. The authors discuss the following:

SURPRISE #1: You Can’t Run the Company
• Working with outside constituencies – analysts, media, lobbyists, charities, other companies’boards – become your new priorities and no one can substitute for you
• You need to delegate the day-to-day operations to your general managers
• Your influence shifts from direct toindirect means – articulating a clear strategy; institutionalizing structures and processes to guide, inform and reward; mentoring key people; and setting values and tone

SURPRISE #2: Giving OrdersIs Very Costly
• While a new CEO needs to put a stake in the ground to show what he or she stands for, it’s rarely a good idea to give a direct order
• The CEO needs to share power andtrust others to make important decisions
• Second guessing a senior manager can demoralize and demotivate that person, and erode his or her authority and confidence
• It is rarely a goodidea to unilaterally overrule a thoughtful decision that has cleared several other organizational hurdles

SURPRISE #3: It Is Hard to Know What Is Really Going On
• Reliable information issurprisingly scarce – despite a flood of information – because all information coming to the top is filtered, sometimes with good intentions, sometimes not
• Former peers and subordinates whoused to supply informal information are now on their guard and protect their own agendas
• The best source of unfiltered information may be informal weekly lunches with 10 –12 mid- and...
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