Are CEOs Ready to be CEOs?

There is a CEO skill gap that is damaging organizations, employees, customer trust and CEOs themselves. Can it be closed?

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According to Nick Forrest, executive leadership consultant and author of How Dare You Manage? Seven Principles to Close the CEO Skill Gap (and founder and president of Forrest), “there is a significant difference between managing a group of employees and managing all the employees in an organization.” Nick has concluded that few CEOs understand that, creating what he calls the “CEO skill gap”.

Most CEOs do not know the executive principles needed to most effectively manage their organizations from the corner office. Additionally, until very recently, there has been a complete lack of resources for new, current and future CEOs to learn them.

He argues that when you hit the key number of 250 employees, the rules of management fundamentally change. At that point, no longer can the organization’s senior manager guarantee enough time with individual employees to lead by building rapport. Instead, at that size, it is specific executive management principles that become the key. “The CEO’s first job is to manage, not lead”, says Nick.

What do those principles look like? Nick proposes best practices about effectively developing and implementing a strategy, an effective organizational structure, and best practices for managers and those they manage – all of which are vital. There is much more of a story, though. Nick points out that this work is the work of the CEO; it cannot be outsourced. The CEO is the only person with the authority to drive the work through the organization, and the only person who can maintain it.

Nick believes that CEOs need to elevate management to a craft: a lifelong vocation that requires humility, persistence and conviction. Becoming skillful at the craft of management, particularly the executive-level craft, produces enormous reward. To Nick, “adept executive management is a highly effective means to get consistent, high productivity out of large groups of individuals.”

The CEO skill gap is cause for concern, but Nick believes that CEOs who have the courage and tenacity to learn and practice the executive management principles will close the gap and release enormous amounts of talent and energy in the organization they lead.


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