Author: Neil Giarratana

Publisher: Career Press, 2010

ISBN-13: 978-1601631268, 224 pages

With more than three decades of experience as a CEO, Neil Giarratana knows how to run a company. His book includes real-life examples of common problems that confront CEOs and offers useful, if fairly elementary, advice on how to deal with those issues. Be sure to consider Giarratana’s suggestions in the context of your company — it’s possible that some of his ideas could land an inexperienced chief executive in hot water. Despite this caveat, Giarratana’s book offers notable value, particularly for neophyte executives. If you are a new CEO or a CEO-in-waiting, getAbstract recommends this briefing. Do heed one telling piece of advice: No one is going to watch your back or tend to your career as devotedly as you, so keep your eyes open.

Short-term work

In the United States, most CEOs last fewer than five years in their jobs due to economic uncertainties and constant change in the world of business. To survive, you must handle many challenges that will routinely develop to thwart you and hurt your firm. You also must construct a strong foundation for your business and for its strategy. This includes a mission statement that presents your vision and promotes your company’s core values and business philosophy.

Chief executives of long tenure develop “business smarts,” the commercial world’s equivalent of street smarts. As a CEO, you need the expertise to create effective strategies that advance your company in the marketplace. Along the way, you also must learn how to deal with numerous issues that can eat away at your power, prestige and efficacy. And you must be able to protect yourself from the land mines that seem to be buried everywhere CEOs must tread.

Early days

A CEO lives under a spotlight, especially during the first few days and weeks on the job. As a new CEO, you should realize that people will make serious judgments and strong assumptions about what kind of person you are during the first minutes of your initial meetings with them. They will draw conclusions from the way you speak and from your body language, facial expressions, tone of voice, style of dress, and so on. First impressions count, especially for a new CEO.

Do not make the mistake of focusing on the wrong subjects during your first few meetings with your management team. For example, this isn’t the time to review your past business triumphs, to reveal how your family feels about your new CEO appointment, to warn people that they must work harder and perform better, to explain the many changes you want to make, or to discuss the troubled economy and other off-putting topics. Your senior team wants to hear your business philosophy, period. What matters to you? What do you think about the firm? What do you expect from your team members and their people? Strive for common ground on strategy and tactics.

Reflexive hostility

Even during your first days on the job, some people in the company will automatically dislike you, even (or especially) though they don’t know you. A few employees are sure to hate you. Nothing will give them greater pleasure than to watch you fail miserably and to see the board boot you out of your exalted position. Some employees will hope for this outcome for a variety of reasons… 

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