You can play without a centre forward but not a goalkeeper 

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 more accountability. 

 

Blair Mcpherson former Director, author and blogger www.blairmcpherson.co.uk 

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