CEOs role as friction buster

Not so long ago, a Private Equity guy told me that I was trying to do too many things as the CEO. Initially I thought he meant that I should hire more people and let them manage the daily operations. While that was there, but what he went on to mention could probably be summarized as – CEOs should play the role of friction busters.

CEOs as friction busterAt that point of time, I was not really convinced as I felt it was necessary for me to be hands-on and keep my ears to the ground. Given that these were early days of the venture, there was so much to learn, so much to tweak, so many experiments to run.

But over the years, I have come to see the value of a CEOs role as friction buster, especially for a growth stage venture or even a start-up where the product/offering validation is done and the revenues are coming in.

So what does a CEO do as Friction Buster:

In any organization’s journey, there are two types of roadblocks  – external and internal.

External could be the market conditions like consumer preferences, competitors product or pricing or even regulatory changes. That apart there are hurdles that one finds within the team. These could pop-up in the form of a poor-culture, lack of internal processes, insecurity within the team and so on.

The CEO should be spending a good amount of time removing these internal hurdles to growth – ensuring a great culture that thrives on collaboration, innovation. Where team members feel secure and feel and act with a certain sense of ownership. These would typically span not just the Human Resource function, but would also encompass the technology and operations set-up.

Why is it important?

  • Keeps your team happy – If the CEO is able to hire rockstars and then help them be better at what they do – it would not only show immediately in the financials, but would help build a happy team.
  • Do it early on – A venture is like a car which is planning to pick up speed. If there are fine-tunings to be done, its best done when you are still at a low gear.
  • CEO is the best guy for the job – He/She has a complete context and would be able to prioritize the multiple internal opportunities.
  • Its not just the sales numbers – Too often we are trapped in the sales oriented metrics and keep focusing our energies on getting a bigger share of the market at lower costs. But too often, the constraints lie internally – in who we hire, how they work, how we fail to empower them or how we fail to build a solid culture.