Academic and author, Tom Lloyd, begins a short series of articles that seek to unravel the mysteries of “reaching the top”. One reason people object so strongly to executive pay packets is that they are mystified by them: they question what it is about chief executives’ work that makes it worth so much. It is not an easy question to answer; certainly not as easy as the answer implied by chief executive pay packets – that the CEO, and the CEO alone creates value for shareholders. But although the numinous quality of leadership defies analysis, it is possible to get some idea of how CEOs spend their time.
Two studies by researchers at Harvard Business School analysed CEO activity by looking at their diaries. Both found, not surprisingly, that CEOs spend most of their working time in meetings. The aim of the more recent study was to map the CEOs’ “span of activity” on to their “span of control”. It found that at companies with chief operating officers and chief financial officers, CEOs spend more time on their own, presumably thinking CEO thoughts.