One of the pleasures of being a CEO or other top dog is the illusion, reinforced daily, that you are Superman and can, in fact, do no wrong. Your secretary organizes your desk, your VPs organize your meetings, and your minions cower before you like, well, minions. As Mel Brooks said during a peasant-shoot in History of the World: Part I, "It's good to be the King." The problem with being King or, even better, CEO, is that you may forget that the Superman thing is only an illusion. If that happens, you may come down with a severe case of CEO-itis -- a syndrome in which the CEO, blinded by his own wonderfulness, begins to lose touch with the reality that the organization really does need other managers and employees to function. Symptoms to watch for include: Severe Inflammation of the CEO Priority Gland: Believe it or not, your employees have full-time jobs to do. In fact, most of them have more than 50 or 60 hours' worth of tasks to perform each week. Within that time, they have to prioritize which tasks to do, how much effort to devote to each, and -- most importantly -- which tasks to put off until next week or next month or never. Yet many a CEO makes a habit of selecting one task of importance to him -- without asking his employees whether the task really is a problem -- and then tying up an entire team with:
- A detailed briefing of the CEO on the topic -- for example, the Internal Division Inter-Office Tabulation Issue Crisis (IDIOTIC) -- about which he likely knows nothing;
- A lengthy meeting or series of meetings to get at the root of the IDIOTIC problem;
- A follow-up white paper on proposed solutions to the IDIOTIC problem;
- A congratulatory session in which the CEO, while offering flowery praise to the IDIOTIC team, highlights his own perspicacity on bringing this insoluble problem to a conclusion. Meanwhile, the team itself wonders how quickly they might have solved a real issue if they had been able to spend the same 400-man hours on it, instead of on the IDIOTIC problem.