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Former KCB CEO's Advice to New CEOs

  Feb 22, 2013

Former KCB CEO, Dr. Martin Oduor Otieno gave advice to new CEOs from the New CEO Executive Program during a guest speaker session. He started by recognising that being a CEO is the apex of one’s career. It is an exciting role as one is given the opportunity to grow an organisation and make a difference. It is an honorable position but also not an easy one and one should be ready for it. The position is not always rosy as it also has its challenges as during the good times, the board gets the credit, whilst during the bad times, the CEO gets the flunk.

The CEO should fully understand the legislative environment and the board room politics under which he operates. He should know who within the board has the power to influence decision making. This will help the CEO to understand how much room they have to operate in, what he can do or not do including who he can turn to in order to get the much needed support to operate and execute ideas.

The CEO drives the organisation in terms of the strategy and in order for one to drive the strategy, you should believe in it. As the CEO, you should work hand in hand with the management team to come up with a good strategy before presenting it to the board.

Once you understand your role as the CEO, you must give it your best shot. CEOs and boards should work hand in hand and always make decisions that serve in the best interest of the organisation and not in their own personal interests.

One should be ready for sources of conflict which include the absence of clear roles and responsibilities, a weak policy environment and overzealous board members. Succession management is an important role for both the CEO and the board. The decision to leave the position should be done once you are ready and should be based on a personal reflection.

Remember that the only easy day was yesterday; today, tomorrow and the future will not be any easier.

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