The Lazy CEO

I ran into one of these rare creatures recently. Rare because they usually don’t last. Kind of like a lazy wildebeest, the one the lion catches. I’m always puzzled (and disgusted!) at how they came to be and how they survive!

When you find a lazy CEO, they usually own the company. Maybe Daddy did. Professional investors and independent boards won’t put up with them.

Remember that kid in high school who was all fluff and no stuff? Copying your answers, perhaps the class clown. Might’ve been smart but survived by being slick and dodging responsibility. That’s the kind of person who grows up to be a lazy CEO. Happy to jump in front of a parade, but loath to organize it.

If the company is sizeable, then they’re talented at taking credit for others’ work, pointing fingers when things go wrong, sucking up to the “right” people (the ones with bigger boats), and looking good to those who don’t know the details.

If you look under the hood, you’ll see little to no planning, just seat of the pants activity. If any planning occurs, they won’t lead the process—they’ll take credit for hitting plans and blame others when they’re missed.

They’ve never pondered big questions like:

·      Why are we here?

·      How do we treat one another?

·      What specific markets do we serve?

·      Why will they buy from us versus our competition?

·      What should we focus on?

·      How can I create a positive and engaging culture?

They hate these questions!

They don’t develop people or teams. In fact, they have weak people reporting to them because no talented person will work for a slug like this, at least for long. Only some weird psychological juju or very high compensation will keep talented people around in this situation.

They have no interest in developing themselves. They’ll go to conferences if the venue suits them, but no classes or coaching. And if they have a library of business books, it’s for show.

Where Marines and first responders run toward trouble, lazy CEOs immediately go into denial mode. Find blame rather than put out the flame. And they dodge hard questions like Neo dodged bullets in The Matrix. 

If you work for a lazy CEO, leave. If you are a lazy CEO, do everyone a favor and quit. If you’re an investor or board member, fire them. They’ll just breed other lazy people.

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