Who holds the steering wheel?

The person who holds the steering wheel may not be the owner of the business. In fact, anyone, who is responsible for day-to-day business operations and controls all crucial aspects of business, should be positioned as the CEO.

Have you ever experienced driving a car or a four-wheeler? As the driver who is controlling the car – you must hold the steering wheel in your own hands and then decide where you want to go and what speed you take. There can be others sitting in the car either on the backseat or by your side but these people can only assist you with the road map, maybe guide you with directions; they cannot hold the steering wheel along with you. 

Likewise, in any endeavour in your personal or professional life – like managing a small event or a project, managing a family, managing a small or medium enterprise, or a large corporation – let there be only one person at the helm – who manages and controls the business with the functional assistance, guidance, and support from other team members. So, who gets to hold the steering wheel?

Given below are certain guidelines to help in steering your business effectively so that your organization makes sustainable profits and makes all its stakeholders happy.

The Business Head

You may own a business or a company but may have no interest in operating it on a day-to-day basis. In such a scenario, you may assign a paid CEO who may be running and controlling your business. Whosoever takes the lead (let us call him/her as the Business Head) in handling business operations should be accepted and positioned as the leader. 

Every other member in the organization must abide by, comply, and follow the directions (or suggestions) coming from the Business Head. Proper organizational arrangements should be instituted to create clear responsibility, authority, and accountability lines in the organizations. 

Top-down and bottom-up communication

The Business Head will be exercising his/her authority and directing (communicating, coordinating, guiding, motivating, and inspiring) all members of the organization to attend to various activities and functions. He/she can also call upon organizational members either individually or in groups to obtain their advice, inputs, and suggestions on certain important aspects. This way, the Business Head will make use of the group decision-making style to seek opinions from everyone and build consensus on matters of crucial interest to the business. 

In the above arrangement, all information, ideas, knowledge, and suggestions from various organizational members flow UPWARDS to the Head who gets the benefit of knowledge and wisdom from everyone to make his own best decisions and get these executed in the best interest of the business. We call this BOTTOM-UP COMMUNICATION. However, everyone in the organization gets commands, or instructions from the Business Head only and this communication is strictly DOWNWARDS. We call this TOP-DOWN COMMUNICATION. 

Unity of Command

Further – no one other than the designated Business Head can pass on any command or instruction to anyone in the organization We call this rule: “UNITY OF COMMAND.” Enforcing unity of command helps in ensuring that no member gets multiple commands from different superiors or seniors only to create confusion and chaos. 

Organizational Structure  

Next, we must make suitable provision so that the Business Head can identify few dependable persons from his larger team who can be given responsibilities for certain major functions or group of functions. These members can be designated as Heads of the respective departments or functions – like Head (Manufacturing), Head (Marketing), Head (Finance) and so on. These Heads can also be provided necessary support staff and physical facilities. They should also be given commensurate authority (matching to their responsibility) in terms of the delegation given to them by the Business Head.

Best Practices for effective steering!

The aspects discussed above are the main guidelines but there are many more principles to abide by. I have listed them in the box below. These can be used to your advantage if you want to steer your organization towards success.

  • Formulating vision, mission, goals, and objectives for the organization.    
  • Effective Value Chain Management: creating, communicating, and delivering value to all stakeholders.
  • Building Sustained Competitive Advantage – through cost leadership, product/service differentiation, and focus strategies.
  • Effective execution of all events and projects without any time overrun and cost escalation.
  • Striving to achieve 5 operational performance criteria: cost of production, product and process quality, speed of performance (ensuring fast and prompt deliveries), building flexibility and dependability in our dealing with customers.
  • Building world-class processes
  • Instituting effective risk management.
  • Strong marketing and sales network. 
  • Effective monitoring, Control, and MIS.
  • Being customer-centric – taking good care of customers, looking after their specific needs, and keeping our commitments and promises to them.


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