Without a chief of staff, you risk experiencing the negative effects of one of the core truths of executive leadership: It’s lonely at the top You will rarely receive direct, constructive criticism or positive feedback from above or below you—about your performance, about specific decisions that you made or about your strategic direction. Plus, information from the lower levels of the organization tends to get filtered through several layers of management on its way to you. That information is frequently so sanitized by the time it reaches you that it omits pertinent details or trade-offs that would make for better decisions on your part. The result is negative surprises.
In a recent survey of 300 chief executives, Chris Wells of Kapta Systems found that “38% of CEOs were blind-sided by a negative surprise in the past 90 days. According to Harvard business professors Michael Porter, Jay Lorsch and Nitin Nohria, the number three surprise for new CEOs is that it is hard to know what is really going on. Granted, you can’t know everything. But as you climb, the consequences for not knowing are more significant and the tolerance of boards, founders and even courts or juries might be lower. As an officer of the company, you might have fail-and-go-to-jail responsibilities for certain aspects of your business. And we all know how well the “we didn’t know” defense worked out for Jeffrey Skilling and his cohort of Enron executives.
Still, not every crisis ends up with someone in jail. You might simply think everything is moving along just fine when costs suddenly jump or revenue falls short for the quarter. Or you go into a board meeting thinking your key leaders are aligned and moving forward, when all of the sudden you find out they’re all over the map and each of you loses face with the board. In many levels of an organization, you can solve your isolation problem through having more, or more focused, information channels, but the higher up the ladder you go, the more filtered the information becomes. You have to challenge it constantly. It’s the chief of staff’s job to know which doors to knock on so that you get what you need and avoid negative outcomes.
Many formerly off-limits foods are enjoying a renaissance as retailers extol the newfound virtue of premium ingredients. Chocolate is a prime example of this shift. According to the Wall Street Journal article, “When Is It OK to Eat Chocolate?” sales of what was once a guilty pleasure have increased 18 percent since 2011.
Your marketing mix will always be unique to your business and your customers. If your ideal clients are spending time on one or more social platforms, it is worth the effort to make your presence known on those platforms. While technology is rapidly changing, the underlying principles that will guide your marketing efforts are not.
Recent events have business owners discussing what Donald Trump's inauguration means for them and their organizations. Venable LLP recently hosted a summit to examine this issue, highlighting the following. These are thoughts for consideration, not predictions, and do not represent an exhaustive list by any means.
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