CEOs, Beware the Trappings of Office
You’ve worked hard to get where you are, countless hours of your blood, sweat and tears given to your business. So when success finally arrives, a fancy office with expensive furniture seems like what you’re due. Why shouldn’t you enjoy a corner office with panoramic views of the surroundings, as well as plush leather chairs, a vintage mahogany desk, first-class wallpaper and so on? Don’t you deserve it?
I visit the offices of many CEOs as part of my work leading Catapult Groups. I’m pleased to report that for the most part these business leaders understand the dangers of owning or renting “trophy” headquarters and corner offices – all the overt trappings of the office that send the wrong message to stakeholders. Occasionally, however, I come across just such an ostentatious example. What this says to to those who work for and with the CEO is:
- My personal interests and the interests of the company are one and the same.
- My needs surpass those of the people who work for me.
- Since I decided I need a larger and remodeled office, and my decisions are never wrong, this is the right thing to do.
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While I strongly believe these trappings of office are unnecessary – and often damaging to a CEO’s reputation – there are nonetheless exceptions to the rule. CEOs and other high-ranking officers of hospitality businesses, or other enterprises that require a “prestigious” public face, are probably obliged to maintain the appearance of opulence and success. But that’s different because that actually serves the business. What I’m talking about is occupying a fancy office because it feeds a CEO’s inflated ego, and has no other purpose. The logical next step in the process is a further distancing between the leader and the people he or she ostensibly leads.
Bill Strickland, President and CEO of Manchester Bidwell Corporation, addressed this point in a 2011 interview: “Do not allow the trappings of the office ‘leader’ to separate you from the very people with whom you draw sustenance. You may not be aware that you draw sustenance from them, but it is absolutely essential that you maintain a direct linkage and a direct connection regularly with the people that are associated with you, both now and moving forward. If you allow yourself to become enamored exclusively with your own ideas and your own vision, my prediction is you will not be as successful as you could be.”
Think of how much benefit there is in taking the money needed to lease and furnish that fancy office and putting it back in your business. After all, your goal is to grow your business and maximize profits. That’s what will make the job meaningful to you, not a $200,000 desk made of Carpathian elm and custom glass.
CEOs and business leaders who join Catapult Groups put the success of their business ahead of their egos. Find out how being a Catapult Groups member can help focus your leadership priorities as well.