Sunday, June 7, 2009

CEO insecurities

I have never been much of a brazen careerist. The intricate system of designations, promotions, incentives and performance appraisals designed to reward the best perfomers is of minimal interest to me and bores me to death. Yet when it was announced that my company was planning to change its CEO by the end of this year, it got me thinking.

The post of a CEO is as high as a person starting as a regular employee can get on the basis of merit, right at the top of the corporate ladder. There are MDs and Boards of Directors too, but they are the equivalent of the President in the Indian political system, symbolically important but not directly influential enough as far as executive functions go. The CEO is the most prominently powerful position that anyone could want to be at.

When a person finally gets up there in that rarified air, what would he be thinking? Would he pat himself on the back for making it to the pinnacle of a 4 billion dollar company and feel proud of being master & commander of 1.5 lakh employees or be merely jealous of the CEO of some behemoth like Google which could buy out his company just for the heck of it?  I wonder how important the CEO of a steel rod manufacturer feels when he is face to face with the CEO of a company like Apple whose factor of coolness is at least a million times more than the poor (figuratively speaking not literally) steelman. Or when someone like Richard Branson shows up with the hottest supermodel dangling from his arm on his private jet, while he himself flew in just plain old luxurious but not luxurious enough Business Class on the "Airline of the year" from 2 years ago. On the other end of the spectrum, does Bill Gates wake up everyday wishing that he had less money and fewer anti-trust cases to handle? 

Every CEO must be proud of having made it but surely they must be wondering whether they made it high enough or far enough to be exactly where they want to be. I know this reads like just another vigorously convoluted excuse for not working too hard in office, but it is what it is! 

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