Clear mandates for executives key task for incoming CEO


As it can be daunting to take on the role of repairing a dysfunctional executive team, a new CEO should start by ensuring that those in the C-suite have clear roles and responsibilities, Toronto business lawyer Bill Northcote tells Succession Planning, a special supplement published by The Bottom Line and Lawyers Weekly.

“A lack of clarity can lead to conflict and competition. Infighting and politicking are signs of dysfunction,” says Northcote, chair of Shibley Righton LLP’s business law practice group.

“There will always be some competition,” he says, “but the role of the CEO is to get strong people to perform and co-operate" and to identify stakeholder groups and their interests to get a full understanding of how the organization works.

However, he adds, incoming CEOs may be faced with a lack of candour when interviewing employees early on.

“They won’t necessarily tell you what the problem is,” he says in the article.

Initially, the new leader needs to recognize what matters most to the business.

“Decide which functions are critical to the organization and which are less so,” explains Northcote. “Depending on the company, sales might be most important, for example, or IT. The CEO needs to recognize which areas are the priorities and focus efforts on making sure they function well.”

In general, Northcote says, the CEO must also lead by example.

“You should model the behaviour that you expect of others,” to reinforce the priorities and values you want the organization to embrace.

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