Secret CEO: President Problems

Q: “The Vice Chancellor seems to have hit it off very badly with this year’s new President at the welcome lunch, and I’m worried that this will impact on our wider relationship and funding for the year ahead. Should we try and get round this as it’s only an 11 month problem, or tackle it head on?”

A: My advice would be to always tackle these matters immediately. It is a crucial relationship which can cause damage in the longer term. Help the President find some common ground with the VC – is there a topic they can champion together – this will get them talking about something they both care about.

A: My major concern would be that the disintegration of one relationship could have such an impact, especially given that Presidents can change annually. I’d be keen to explore the ways through which the SU engages with the University executive in order to map out some constants in terms of relationship management, and share the burden in terms of managing the hopes and fears of your key stakeholders. I’d be looking at making sure that dialogue with the VC isn’t just left to one individual and to make sure that your key messages are getting through regardless of personal relationship.

A: I feel that one of the roles of the CEO is the “back channel bag carrier”- someone that can have discussions discreetly to solve problems like this. Almost all VCs also have one. It’s worth speaking to that person in the Vice Chancellor’s office to see if there has been a lasting problem, how it has landed with the VC, and what their recommendation would be. Just as we help to to shape impressions of people formed by our officers they will do so too.

Next Time:
“I am starting to struggle a bit with hours- I get in early to get some work done, and tend to leave late because the officers (and some of our newer staff) tend to only appear at 10 and leave late, with some rteally invigorating ideas and conversations happening late on. Should I match their hours or set a more professional tone, encouraging them to do 9 to 5 too?”

Email your advice to by Friday 25th July.

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