Catalyst Strategic Consultants

How does your business need to grow?

What’s a president to do?

8nzq6sypNew President, Emerging President, Practised President – OK, I’m there. Lots of people are prepared to spout about how I’m supposed to be. You know, tough, courageous, a good listener, a visionary – all that.

Some holders of the office find their way to us questioning – “Yeah but, What am I supposed to do?” “What’s my job description?” By that I think they mean,

-“What are the game-breaker tasks so I make sure I hit on those?”
-“What should I focus on? What’s less important?”
-“What are the traps that I could fall into?”

These are the courageous ones. They want to know! And they have the guts to admit they’re not sure.

They are escaping the first trap – the fixed mindset. If you recall an earlier post, most who get the title are imitators: they just want to do it in the way they’ve observed of others who have gone before. Without directly asking of course! Nothing wrong with learning from others. It’s what I’ve done! But when it is done without dialogue in a slavishly imitative way, [ and without knowing whether the person they are watching is the full package or not] – the approach does not lead the aspirant to become the full meal deal. It leads them to become a pale version of the [flawed] occupant they have tied themselves to.

And Presidents need to have a lively learning curiosity. They need to have clear minds, strong focus and the ability to move between domains. That last means a freedom to move across boundaries, to integrate new with old. OK, so much for the qualities the President must have. Here I am – spouting some more!

What does he/she do?

I compiled a presentation called “Presidential Competencies”. Over the many years I have mentored great and successful holders of the office, I’ve been watching. Watching them hit the mark – or miss – on each of the tasks that holders of the office are expected to discharge.

You have to understand that being President is holding an office. The office accrues expectations – regardless of who the incumbent is. That is, there is a constellation of duties that just land at that door, in every company, in every field, and have always attached to whomever holds the title! You can’t duck it – or any part of it.

Competencies? Well a competency is something you have to be clear on as part of a job. A drywaller has to be competent at taping. A President has to be competent at working a reporting relationship. If you hit on all the competencies I’ve identified, you are the complete package. If you you don’t? Well, you’ll pay the price for the miss and learn for next time: “Can’t ignore that one!”

So my long experience led to a gradual accumulation of what must be discharged by those who occupy the office. You can see the speaking outline on a new service called Slideshare, and you can access it here.

It outlines the many expectations and functions that just migrate there and, unless discharged by the occupant, do not get resolved elsewhere. It doesn’t mean that these jobs can’t be delegated. They can, but only by a President who knows where, by whom and how they are being executed. They cannot be lost or forgotten, on pain of real consequences.
I divided up the functions between the Inside, and Outside President and added another category – At the Boundary. Because the President is the ultimate arbiter of what comes in and goes out of the company.

I called the work Presidential Competencies and it’s still my most popular talk in the TEC community. “Competencies” means a President has to be able to do these things.

They are not equally important. Some will need more attention, some less. None can be left out – in my experience. Remember – it was watching success and failure and what happened next that built the list.

The balance between Inside and Outside shifts too. Particularly as the company gains more stakeholder and edges into the public territory, the Outside dimension takes more attention and the portfolio of competencies shifts. So the list on the site is appropriate to the medium scale typical entrepreneurially created enterprise. The list is different as the company scales up. You can see that near the final slides.
An Inside President role? Strategic Plan activator: ensuring the company has a mechanism of ongoing forward planning and that it recurs. An Outside function? Face of the company: the public relations spokesperson, among others.

The list you see is a summary – it takes time to fully lay out what each means, and that can’t be in a slide deck.
Curious? Always open to a chat….

Doug Bouey
Catalyst Strategic Consultants Ltd.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

What’s Our Business?

Bringing out the best in you, your company and your people.

Doug Bouey, President
Catalyst Strategic Consultants Ltd.

Calgary, AB // Phone: 403.777.1144


Past Posts