I can imagine the conversation, a cross party working group has been
set up to identify the best process for filling the recently vacated
chief executive post. The leader assumed that this would involve
deciding which executive recruitment firm to engage, a brief for the
lucky firm covering the desire for a diverse long list, the extent of
involvement of partner agencies in the short listing process and
members role in the final selection. Nothing particularly
controversial since HR had already advised a small uplift would ensure
the salary was inline with similar size organisations but the working
group should satisfy the desire of the many to have a say in the
appointment. But the group decided to take the task seriously.
Starting from the obvious questions what does the chief executive do
and moving on to do we have to have one?
An organisation needs a leader otherwise it will be directionless,
lacking in ambition and vision and in the current climate missing
opportunities, avoiding difficult decisions and failing to adapt. But
the organisation already has a leader who is addressing all those
issues in a very energetic and robust style, the Chair of the board.
So then the conversation turned to the second part of the question ,
is an organisation legally required to have a chief executive? The
conclusion, influence by one member of the group who had previously
worked in an organisation that had disestablished the post, was that
there was no legal requirement to have a chief executive posts
provided the formers responsibilities were clearly allocated to others
such as the treasure, the head of legal services and the chair.
It was in this way that the group came to the unexpected
recommendation that rather than advertise for a new chief executive
they should do away with the post.
Much to the disappointment of the members of the group who felt they
had come up with a radical solution in keeping with the chairs mantra
to ,”think outside of the box “ their recommendation was ridiculed.
The group found this hard to understand , hadn’t it been the general
consensus that there were too many management tires in the
organisation, that messages from the top had to go through too many
mouth before reaching the front line. Hadn’t Board members had been
saying they wanted more direct influence on the day to day running of
the organisation. Didn’t every departmental Director already worked to
a full time member of the board.
Turns out the chair /leader had never insinuated they were as good as
doing the chief executives post already or that the reason the
previous chief had to go was that they were too opinionated and prone
to go their own way.
It would appear that the chair felt more comfortable with some one
between them and those responsible for performance and in this they
had the support of board who after all had wanted more influence not
Blair Mcpherson former Director, author and blogger www.blairmcpherson.co.uk