Yesterday, the United States presidential elections came to a close with the re-election of President Obama. Whatever you might think of the outcome or the process, the simple fact that people have the opportunity to vote for their leader is a powerful right.
This made me think; what would happen if a similar democratic process was being used in companies? Of course investors as owners in the organization already have (although many would argue that it doesn’t work as good as it should work) an opportunity to select the custodian of their investment. However, other stakeholders don’t have this opportunity, although you might argue that they have an opportunity to “vote” by deciding not to do business with a company, not to buy their products, or as employees to simply choose to leave the organization.
That is all true, yes, but allow me to muse for a moment and explore what would be the benefits if employees had the opportunity to vote for their CEO of choice. I think there are various potentially powerful benefits of CEO elections that could change the relationships of employees and leaders, most probably for the better.
For starters, a CEO candidate needs to be able to convince employees about his/her character, intent, capability and strong track record in delivering results and leading people. In order for people to vote, the CEO candidate needs to have an inspiring vision for the company and a clear roadmap on how to deliver on this vision with the result that all employees would be actively involved and engaged in setting the future of the organization. Last but not least, employees will know their leader. They will know what he/she stands for and values, what important decision he/she makes, and have a defined understanding of how their company will be led. Their engagement levels will go through the roof, as they will feel aligned with not only their company, but also their leader.
Of course there are many pitfalls, maybe even significantly bigger than the benefits, but for the moment allow me to fantasize a bit in the aftermath of what was probably the most elaborate, expensive and scrutinized election held to date.
Would you like to have a vote in who your next CEO is?
– Paul Keijzer