A couple weeks ago I headed off to a strategic planning meeting. There were no plans for this meeting to be radically different. The offsite location was perfect, the meeting rooms were adequate, the hotel rooms and restaurants were all top notch. The only difference between this meeting and a million others I have supported was that the CEO did not go! Oh, he had planned to go, but a family emergency kept him away.
What would have happened to your strategic planning session if the boss was unable to make the meetings? My guess is that most would be cancelled or if they were held, very few important decisions would be made. Perhaps there would be a scramble among the ‘next in charge’ and positioning between the lieutenants in who would speak or who would take the gavel.
In order for something like this to actually work, everyone has to be fully aware of two pieces of knowledge and one cultural caveat.
– First, there has to be an articulated vision on the purpose and outcomes for the planning sessions.
– Then, everyone has to be very clear on their ability to make decisions and act in the best interest of the company.
The cultural caveat is one of TRUST. The CEO has to have had the conversation with the staff and the next generation of leaders, that she trusts the team will make solid, informed decisions in her absence. Ideally, this conversation happens often and long before the scheduled offsite meeting.
So how did the CEO-less meeting go? It went off without a hitch. It was obvious the handful of senior leaders in the room were comfortable with their roles and their ability to make decisions. Of course we had to make sure our reasoning was well documented, but that is just good planning protocol.
How would your company react?