We’re used to oxymorons such as military intelligence and government action, but it is unusual to find a contradiction inside a single word. And yet, in many organisations, people in authority don’t have any. CEO syndrome arises when people believe they act with authority when in fact they don’t.
The danger behind CEO syndrome is best illustrated when we consider that the queen believes that the whole world smells of new paint. If you have ever taken part in anything even remotely resembling a royal visit, you’ll know what I mean. The tale of the king with no clothes is another example.
The rise of political correctness has made it increasingly unlikely that people will tell you what they really think, whilst at the same time the continuing financial crisis makes that sharing even more important.
The answer is to give authority rather than to take it. Rather than act unilaterally using power of position, turn the organisation upside down and find out what it is that your people need to do their jobs well. You will only need to solve one problem to start bringing the barriers down, but of course you only need to do nothing to reinforce them.