Disconnect in the C-Suite: Aligning Executives’ Goals for Successful Growth
In business, growth affects all members of an organisation, from the customer to the supplier and from the CEO to the trainee. Growth can bring with it new pressures, new workloads, new markets and new objectives. It’s no wonder perhaps that there are differing opinions on growth.
But what effect do these contrasting views have on an organisation, and the individuals in it? While most members of the C-Suite are in tune with what is going on within their own departments, they don’t always agree on priorities—and the CEO is often on a different page altogether. Why is this? And what steps can the CEO and the rest of the C-Suite take to better align their goals and priorities to make their businesses stronger and achieve successful growth?
Differences in roles lead to disconnects on growth
Each officer in the C-Suite has a unique role and set of responsibilities, and is laser-focused on the area of business they lead. It comes as no surprise that the CEO, who is tasked with overseeing all functions of the organization, often has a very different viewpoint on growth than his or her supporting executive team members such as the CFO, CIO and COO.
A perfect illustration of this is found in an Epicor-commissioned survey conducted by MORAR Consulting, which questioned 1,800 business leaders from 12 countries worldwide. The research showed that while 53% of CEOs do not think growth is rewarding, 53% of CFOs, CIOs, and COOs said they do find growth rewarding.
This fundamental disconnect on the topic of growth isn’t the only one. A study by Accenture revealed opposing views between CEOs and CFOs regarding how to tackle problems relating to profitability and growth. For instance, while 31% of CEOs agree that the company's operating model is aligned to fuel future strategic growth, only 17% of CFOs agree with this. And there are other findings of disagreements among CEOs and the rest of the C-Suite regarding growth.
Creating common ground to support growth
According to Rob Morris, managing director and general manager of intellectual property at leadership consultancy firm YSC, bringing C-Suite executives into alignment as one cohesive, well-informed unit is critical—and it’s the CEO’s job to do this. "Conflict in a healthy team climate can lead to more effectiveness, but when the conflict is hidden, confined to disagreements between only one or two key stakeholders, it can quickly become dysfunctional. It’s likely, looking at this data, that the CIO, COO and CFO might not even be aware that the CEO has such a different experience of growth to them. Alignment is essential if C-suite members are to foster healthy conversations, and pave the way for profitable business growth." said Morris.
As a CIO article states, the supporting executive team members’ priorities also need to be aligned—not only with the CEO’s, but with each other’s. The article quotes Robert Orshaw, COO and executive vice president at Velocity Technology Solutions, who says that when the CSO and CIO "work as a team to jointly develop architectures, priorities, and budgets that consider the needs of the whole business—that is a beautiful thing."
The CEO should also consider the other executives’ unique roles and responsibilities, and encourage them to speak up and engage in healthy debate when required. For example, a study by the ACCA and IMA found that while CFOs can play a supportive role in the CEO’s strategic decision-making, they also need to maintain their independence and challenge the CEO to prevent poor decisions.
To discover more about how to build greater alignment within the C-Suite to better support business growth, read our new eBook .
Posted by Martin Hill, Vice President Marketing for Epicor International