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How to Overcome Executive Isolation in Your Organisation

Overcome Executive Isolation in Your Organisation

The CEO of a larger organisation has what would seem like an impossible workload to many. It is mandatory that someone running a multi-million dollar company delegates responsibility wisely. This usually involves a layered network consisting of chiefs of staff, executive assistants, advisors, schedulers and other support personnel.

Ideally, this chain of command ensures that the CEO works to filter out irrelevant or low-value activities, thus allowing the CEO to do what is most important and beneficial to the organisation. Unfortunately, the layering of “gatekeepers” often becomes so effective that the CEO no longer has direct contact with many of the people who are actually working on issues relevant to the success of the organisation.

When gatekeepers do their jobs perfectly, the senior executive gets a balanced representation of what is going on in the organisation without being buried in minutiae. Unfortunately, in many organisations, the senior executive ends up only hearing what the gatekeepers want him or her to hear. Every piece of information has been filtered by the opinion of the gatekeepers, rendering the senior executive’s opinion less than relevant by the time the ideas reach the top of the “food chain.”

This is not healthy and is not an effective way to run any organisation. It produces a conservative course which seldom leads to true innovation and usually leads to a stagnant culture of executive isolation.

How Middle Management Can Mitigate Executive Isolation

If you are a middle manager who wants a direct, unfiltered dialogue with a member of senior management, you will have to tread carefully. When gatekeepers attempt to filter your dialogue or dissuade you from mentioning issues that you believe relevant, don’t confront them directly, but don’t follow their advice to the letter, either. Instead, use your own judgment to determine what information you will present in your meeting.

How Senior Management Can Eliminate Isolation

This is deceptively easy—you simply make time for unfiltered discussions with people from other parts of the company. Get away from your gatekeepers once in awhile; it will help you see what is really happening in your organisation.

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Ron Cacioppe

Ron Cacioppe is the Managing Director of Integral Development and holds a BSc, an MBA and a PhD. He has taught in the Graduate School of Management at Macquarie University, Curtin University and the University of Western Australia.

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