With Research In Motion’s (RIM) recent earnings call came criticism from all directions. It is not a surprise to me RIM is not exceeding expectations. They have not released anything close to innovative since the initial BlackBerry devices years ago. They have not been considered a market leader in the mobile space for quite some time and former employees are now speaking out. But most importantly, they have co-CEO’s both trying to run the company. So the natural question arises: Who is the Leader?
Anyone who studies Leadership knows human nature does not work this way. We, as followers, need to understand who is the single person we can look to for final orders. We need to know who will ultimately take responsibility for the company’s performance. We need to know where the buck stops. As followers, our single most important need is to feel secure in our future. It’s the leaders responsibility to meet that need by stepping up and taking responsibility.
Interestingly, it is when one person steps up and takes charge – not more than one. Using an loose analogy, remember back on the school playground when teams were picked to play a sport? Naturally one person was identified as captian, and they proceeded to pick their team. I don’t remember ONE time in my life where 2 co-captains walked up to pick a team. Nobody would want to be a part of that team since it was obvious there was not a clear leader. We innately knew in grade school the power of the leader, and how one person will lead us to success. That is why we pushed just one person out there. Not two.
For a more extreme example, this is why the United States of America does not have President One and President Two, switching them on and off on certain days of the week. That would be absurd. We have a President and a Vice President, and it is very clear who is in charge.
I am not well acquainted with RIM and their company culture, and according to the former employee there is still a lot left for praise. But to an outsider it looks as if RIM punted on a tough decision and placed two people in one person’s position for reasons unknown. History has shown this does not work well.
Lessons for Young Entrepreneurs
- Decide early who will be the Leader and establish a clear CEO
- Give them full authority to lead the company as they innately know how
- Find a great second in command to aid and support the CEO
The only thing worse than having one under performing CEO, is having two under performing co-CEO’s.
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