Magazine article Management Today

Sir, Boss, Mr Smith, John: How Low Should the CEO Go?

Magazine article Management Today

Sir, Boss, Mr Smith, John: How Low Should the CEO Go?

Article excerpt

How low should the CEO go?

Everyone knows the type: the flamboyant, approachable chief executive who likes nothing more than chatting with the shop-floor staff and whose door is always open. Then, of course, there's the opposite extreme - the boss who (rightly or wrongly) views mucking in as a waste of time and only deals with those a couple of rungs down the corporate ladder. Both styles have their adherents and critics. So, how close should a general be to his or her troops?

Pretty Close, reckons Alan Jones, managing director of TN? Express (UK): 'We're all on first name terms, my doer's always open and we try to be involved with all staff. We don't expect anyone here to do anything we can't do ourselves.' Sir Clive Thompson, chief executive of Rentokil Initial, takes a rather more distanced view, however. 'There's no should about it - it's what's appropriate for the company. But I would counsel against chief executives who use a "car park" style.' By this, Thompson means the type of situation whereby anyone feels they can come across the boss in the car park and bend his or her ear.

Vicky Wright, managing director of Hay Management Consultants, agrees that it's a case of horses for courses: 'Asda [where chief executive Allan Leighton regularly hobnobs with the staff], for example, is a single company. But if you're chief executive of a holding company or a highly fragmented company, by walking in all the time, you could be undermining your divisional heads.' Although cautions Wright, 'there should be some element of management by walking about, the critical issue is how you're reaching your top 200 people'. …

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