The steady demise of the ‘all-powerful’ leader

The number of newly appointed joint chief executive / chairman has decreased to a record low. Credit Suisse research has found that companies with separate chief executives and chairs have outperformed those that combine roles over the past decade.

Combining two of the most senior roles in business risks not recognising the complexity and nuances that are required for both positions. Who will be able to hold the chief executive accountable for hard decisions and and implementing strategy? What impact does a joint role have on culture?

When a leader takes sole responsibility for culture they risk shutting out other voices. It takes too long for one mind to understand the various functions of a modern organisation. A group of leaders taking charge of, and reporting back on, their own area is much better able to shape culture, and mitigate risk, in their functions. Independent chairmen give companies a better chance of avoiding major scandals and improving corporate governance.

Being part of belonging means sharing as well as setting standards, shaping as well as being shaped by culture. with joint chief executive / chairman positions this puts a strain on the ability to reflect on company culture from different perspectives.