Advice For New CEOs? Don’t Wield Too Much Power

Some interesting research from HBR indicates that CEOs should be careful about using too much power with too little input.

The CEO is undoubtedly the most powerful person in any organization. Yet any CEO who tries to use this power to unilaterally issue orders or summarily reject proposals that have come up through the organization will pay a stiff price. Giving orders can trigger resentment and defensiveness in colleagues and subordinates. Second-guessing a senior manager can demoralize and demotivate not only that person but others around him, while eroding his authority and confidence. What's more, the need to overrule a proposal indicates that the strategic planning and other processes in place may be either inappropriate or insufficient. No proposal should reach the CEO for final approval unless he can ratify it with enthusiasm. Before then, everyone involved with the matter should have raised and resolved any potential deal breakers, bringing the CEO into the discussion only at strategically significant moments to obtain feedback and support. Ironically, by exercising his power to give orders, the CEO actually reduces his real power, saps his energy and his organization's, and slows down progress.

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