Les McKeown's Predictable Success Blog

  • December 30, 2010
  • minute read

The Flying Goose CEO 

We’re midway through a series examining the difference between positionship and leadership, and in particular, exploring the dynamic patterns that may indicate you or someone else is using their position to achieve things, rather than doing the hard work of actual leadership.On Tuesday we looked at the first such pattern – what I call The Doughnut CEO, and on Wednesday we examined the second pattern: The Sandwich CEO. Today is about The Flying Goose CEO.

Here’s what that pattern looks like:

The Flying Goose CEO

For the Flying Goose CEO, CEO-ship is too cool a deal to waste on mere leadership. This is all about the position, baby! The Flying Goose CEO relishes the position, strives hard to get it, and once it’s attained, milks it for all it’s worth.

To the Flying Goose CEO, managers aren’t managers, they’re an entourage. Meetings aren’t meetings, they’re performances. A strategic plan isn’t a strategic plan, it’s a movie script.

Together with the manager group The Flying Goose CEO forms a business version of a rat pack – hip (in their own minds, anyway), tight, bonded; and while everyone in the manager group gets their time in the sun, no-one doubts who the main man is: the Goose.

Why this happens:
There are really only two root causes that lead to a Flying Goose CEO:

1. Ego.
Pure and simple.

2. Too much success too soon.
Occasionally an otherwise adult CEO can have their head turned by achieving too much success too early in their career, which leads to the temporary onset of 1.

What happens as a result:
Overspending (the office redecoration, luxury travel, outrageous gifts); constant shift of focus from one shiny thing to another; a ‘boy’s club’ of inner sanctum favorites; lax monetary control; inappropriate risk-taking.

At his or her worst, the Flying Goose CEO can develop an Icarus Complex leading to an eventual catastrophic meltdown.

How to fix it:
Just wait a while, and either the board will get tired and fire the Goose, or he/she will blow up of their own accord. If it’s a family business, and the Goose is a family member, either stage an intervention or start diversifying your portfolio.

Tomorrow: The UnCEO.


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