This week I heard two stories that made me furious. I have two exceptionally visionary, dedicated and kind clients who have run successful companies for over 30 years. Coincidentally, both of these leaders had made decisions several years ago to turn over more of the day to day operations to their No. 2 executives, both finance managers, CFO’s.
As you might suspect, the CFOs had very different views of how a company should be run, numbers vs. vision essentially, and within 2-3 years, the companies were both in decline. Both CEOs made the decision to step back in. Well, you would think that is where the story ended, but unfortunately, not.
Both CFOs hid their anger at being displaced back into their old positions, refusing to take any responsibility for the declines even with obvious evidence that the companies began their comebacks with the visionary back in the saddle. But, worse, both CFOs have mounted surreptitious and hostile undermining attitudes and decisions that have hampered recovery significantly.
The first error in judgment was to turn over the company to someone who never really respected the vision component, nor understood it, and then the second error was to leave these people in positions where they could still block and dilute the leader’s efforts. The latest error is to fail to confront the resistant and hostile attitudes. There is an intellectual arrogance that sometimes comes with degrees and expertise when confronted with the magic of vision that they cannot understand.
But vision will win everytime.