I recently watched the movie The Intern, a lighthearted office story about a young chief executive and her intern, who happens to be a 70-year-old retired guy. In the movie, Jules, the CEO, is struggling. She works 16+ hours a day as the organization is growing quickly. Amazingly, she still takes the time to get on the phone for customer service calls. Because she orders items from her own company to check on the experience, she notices sloppy packaging. So, she goes to the warehouse to teach people how to fold and carefully package items. One of the key lessons of this movie is that a good boss has her hand in everything. When people have problems or questions, she fixes them or tells them what to do.

Hold on! What makes her great is that she is knee-deep in the minutiae of her organization? Sorry, it may make for a decent movie plot, but that’s NOT what a good CEO does.

Joel Trammell, a veteran CEO shared the 5 core responsibilities of a chief executive:

  1. Determine and communicate the strategic vision for the organization
  2. Make sure necessary resources – people and capital – are available
  3. Build the culture ( shared attitudes, goals, behaviors and values)
  4. Make decisions
  5. Oversee and deliver the company’s performance, which requires a good deal of contact with external stakeholders

Nowhere on this list is micromanaging all the functions of the organization. At some critcal juncture, Jules needed to grow the capabilities of her staff, so that they were able to think on their feet, problem-solve and grow.

Rather than being commended for her do-everything strategy, Jules’ challenge should be developing others so she can get back to her real job. (And, yes, the challenge for me is to just watch and enjoy movies, without analyzing the business practices of the characters.)


How have you gotten out of “the weeds” at work? Comment below or message us.

Photo from Dollar Photo Club.