The only real advance in organizational development over the past 50 years is the reengineering of executive titles. We now have chief officers for every function and non-function, from marketing and information to experience and ethics. The purpose of all those c-level titles? One word. Ego.
That’s right; no company – no matter how big – needs more than a handful of executive officers, and small companies don’t need any.
Take Apple. The world’s most valuable company with a market cap of nearly $900 billion and 123,000 employees worldwide has just 11 senior executives: CEO Tim Cook, COO Jeff Williams, CFO Luca Maestri, chief design officer Jonny Ive, and seven senior VPs. That’s it. And just eight board directors.
Most startups have more c-level titles than Apple. That’s just ludicrous. And small businesses don’t need c-level anything, whether they’re organized as s-corps, partnerships or proprietorships. It’s all just for show – ego and attention – so little people can feel like big shots.
If you’re a CEO of a one-person company, congrats, you’re the boss of yourself. You’re the chief ego officer. Good for you. Don’t be too hard on yourself, though. I guess everyone has to feel special these days.
Pro sports teams used to have just one or two team captains. Lately it seems like every player has a “C” on his uniform. And every professor has suddenly become endowed with a name. Vijay Burbaxani of UC Irvine, is actually the Taco Bell professor of information systems and computer science. No kidding.
When I ran marketing for a Fortune 1000 tech company, fewer than 1% of all the corporations in America had annual revenues larger than my $50 million marketing budget, and that was just variable expense, not fixed or payroll. Was I a chief marketing officer? Nope. Did I care? Nope. And neither should you.
Business is not about you; business is about business. Making great products customers love is what matters. Doing a great job matters. Striving to be the best at what you do matters. And yes, compensation matters. When it comes to titles, all that matters is that people you deal with understand your function. Simple as that.
Don’t even get me started on self-employed slackers who call themselves leaders or entrepreneurs without ever having managed a soul or run a business. That’s just delusional.
I don’t know how everyone got it into their heads that the world needs more leaders and entrepreneurs, and I don’t care. We don’t need more chiefs. We don’t need more bosses. And we certainly don’t need more delusional narcissists who want to feel like big-shots.
What we need is more employees who are good at what they do. We need more people who get things done. We need more doers.
If you want to be successful, be a doer.
Image credit Pablo BM via Flickr