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unCon 2013 Session: “Who is Really Running Your Company?”

Moderators: Leah Carey, Carl Scholz, Parallel
The question of who runs your company seems
like it should have a simple answer. However, every organization will struggle
with this question at some point in its evolution.
Within every company are competing
factions.  While the competition is not always overt, there can be a
perpetual struggle for influence between departments such as revenue generators
(sales, usually), product developers, infrastructure providers (IT and others),
finance, boards of directors and investors. High performance by each one of the
competing influencer groups is necessary to the success of the company, and
each group brings both positive and negative things to their degree of
influence. Ultimately, this struggle will have an impact on the C-suite in the
form of either unbalanced influence or a need for the C-suite executives to
step in and keep the competing divisions aligned for the greater good of the
It is the hallmark of the best CEOs to be
able to balance these elements properly and keep each group’s influence both
properly constrained but also free enough to innovate and take appropriate
risks that can benefit the entire company. Often, according to Leah Carey at
Parallel Minds, most CEOs can be classified as having strengths with either
task-orientation or people-orientation. When questions of influence arise, they
will default to whatever his or her particular strength is. However, a strong
tool for dealing with conflict (or problem solving, in general) is to elevate
the question at hand to see how a particular outcome will affect the entire
organization or impact broad corporate strategy.  By looking to a larger
question of corporate direction, great CEOs will be able to depersonalize
conflict and better align internal influencers to attack a common goal.
The struggle for influence may be part of
human nature.  However, CEOs who build and live a corporate culture that
values transparency and the open and productive exchange of ideas among the
company’s leadership, as well as the “rank and file,” are better able to create
a sense of balance and mission within the company.  Great CEOs are rare
but when you find one, it’s usually easy to answer the question, “who is
running the company?”
Christopher M. Nahil
Message & Medium – Marketing and
Communications Consulting

Twitter: @cnahil

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