David Levy – Characteristics Essential for a C.E.O. Post in the 21st Century – Nov 15

After a recent meeting with a Chief Executive Officer of a governmental agency, I found myself thinking about what kind of person applies for and is given the posting by the government ministry which provides the funding for the agency.

Prestigious agencies attached to primary ministries will be blessed with a plethora of candidates with a proven track record of soundness. Described as being high-flyers, these people are a safe pair of hands. Totally immune to the public they are there to deliver the economics and business as usual.

Peter’s Law is perfectly acceptable to these leaders. Promoted to their potential level of incompetence, they are surrounded by a system that hardly ever changes and in fact doesn’t want to.

Most agencies have to run the gauntlet of budget cuts and must be prepared to trim and pare staff where necessary. This runs contrary to bureaucracy, so the CEO is expected to fight his corner for his agency.

Our experience of listening to a new CEO was to hear him say he was using his initial period of being in post to review and seek improvements. This is code for cuts, and about delivering a reduced or same service with less staff.

It does not mean that the public have any influence over this procedure. In fact any shift in this procedure will only happen if the changes are challenged legally. The system keeps the public at bay via consultations, and time can be wasted and efforts binned the moment they are received.

The whole system is a fraudulent exercise in wordage, with little action that is either accounted for or meant. It’s a political two-step between the agencies and the public’s NGOs, and unfortunately the urgent situation that requires change just continues whilst this dance takes place.

The agencies are ruled by inertia despite any help they are offered.

Despite detailed reasons why NGOs may have approached an agency, the agencies are inflicted with a myopia direct from their parent Ministry.

They remind me of Captain Smith (RMS Titanic) who steadfastly pursued speed against a safe course. He did so because that was the expectation he was governed by.

Our CEOs are governed too. Everything is okay until something in the ecosystem collapses, and by then they will no longer be accountable or in post.

Like MAFF, they may well be the scapegoat and abolished.

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