Who’s More Important The CEO or Your Boss?
Tom works in a cubicle in the marketing department. Glenna runs machines in a factory. Jeff is out on the road selling most of the time.
All these people work for big companies with well-known CEOs. The business press trumpets the importance of CEOs and their innovative strategies. They rarely talk about the managers, first-line supervisors and sales managers down in the trenches.
If you work for a medium to large company you’ve probably got a CEO at the top of the organizational tree and a different boss you report to directly. To figure out which one is more important, answer the following questions along with me.
Which boss can make your day?
Tom’s boss, Frank, is a little moody. Actually, he’s very moody. Tom and his colleagues joke that they really need a weather channel that will warn them of boss storms before they hit.
When Frank is in a bad mood, everybody seems to catch it. The same thing happens when Frank shows up in a good mood. As one of Tom’s friends put it, “When it rains on Frank, we all get wet.”
The CEO, on the other hand, has very little effect on Tom’s day-to-day life. What about you? Does the CEO or your direct boss have more impact on your workday?
Which boss parcels out the rewards?
It’s annual performance appraisal time at Glenna’s factory, but she’s not worried. Glenna likes her supervisor, Rick, because he’s constantly around her and the other workers, correcting performance that needs it, and praising good performance. There won’t be any surprises on Glenna’s review.
But she’s still nervous. Rumor has it that the CEO is going to limit merit raises this year.
She needs to ask Rick about that because, based on her work this last year, she expects to be at the top of the chart come raise time. But she’s happy with the way Rick hands out other awards like desirable assignments so the factory will still be a great place to work no matter what the formal policy is on raises.
How is it for you? Who makes the decisions that affect your paycheck? Who’s more important here, the CEO or your direct boss?
Who helps you succeed?
Laura has been Jeff’s manager for just a couple of months, but it’s made things different for him. His old boss was old school. He loved to catch people doing things wrong and point out all the things they needed to improve.
Laura is different. When she first took over, she met with Jeff and asked him what he wanted out of the job. Jeff said that he hoped to get picked for the National Accounts team. He and Laura mapped out a plan for Jeff to develop some of the skills he’ll need.
She’s also recommended Jeff for special temporary assignment to the National Accounts team. She and Jeff think that will increase his odds of getting a permanent slot on the team.
What’s your situation? Does the CEO help you achieve your personal goals? Or is it your direct boss?
Whose name do your kids know?
This is a true litmus test. The odds are pretty good that your children don’t know the name of the CEO of your company. The odds are also pretty good that they know your boss’s name.
When Jeff Immelt, now the CEO of General Electric, was growing up his father worked on the line at GE. Immelt says he never knew who the CEO of GE was, but he always knew who his father worked for.
That’s why Immelt and other savvy CEOs make it a point to remind the first line supervisors and middle managers that they are the company to the people who work for them. Those savvy CEOs seem to understand how important the front line leaders are.
Who’s got the biggest impact on profits?
If you read the business press, you’d probably say it’s the CEO. After all, it’s the CEO who thinks up the grand strategy. But think about this.
The best strategy in the world is no good if it’s not implemented. Years ago I worked with a company that had a grand strategy in three thick binders. The only manager I could ever find who used those binders used them to prop open a door.
But the company still made money. It made money because, despite the fact that an understanding of the official strategy never made it beyond the executive suite, there were thousands of men and women out there every day selling and delivering service that made a difference to customers.
Every one of those men and women had a direct boss who had an impact on what their day would be like; who parceled out the rewards and helped them succeed. That boss was the one whose name their kids knew and who helped them make a difference on the bottom line.
By Wally Bock