How Far Should A CEO Go?

Apr 18, 2014


How hands on should a boss be?

Well, judging by this week, if they truly believe in running an exceptional, competitive business then there really is no getting away from the office. Even when you’re away from the office.

On Sunday this week I flew on holiday with my family. It’s a chance for them to remember what I look like. Mostly you see, I get home in the evenings after my three small children (one aged 5 and twins of 4) have gone to bed. Mornings are a mish-mash of toothpaste, Weetabix and muddled school uniforms and that always seem to pass by at lightening speed with little time for chat. Weekends are less taxing but still seem to magnetise work related requirements more often than not.

So, holiday. A relaxing time. Or at least it should be.

Even with a very able team in place at our Brentwood HQ it seems that the boss is still in demand. Being the founder of a rapidly growing business that has customers at its very heart, there seems to be little escape from being the sounding board, the fixer or the source of much needed information despite being two thousand miles and two time zones away. Some things, it seems, just won’t wait.

Whilst attempting, for once, to do nothing this week I’ve ended up getting involved in…

A major data-feed issue with Rightmove that has prevented some of our new instructions from being displayed since Monday. An afternoon’s worth of increasingly louder calls to Rightmove and our data supplier sorted the issue eventually. And I’ve authorised free Premium Listings for the 37 customers affected by the delay…

Chasing a supplier to rectify an issue with one of our VOIP phone circuits that has decided, spitefully, to drop some of our calls here and there…

Shouting at our national sign-board contractor to whom we pay thousands of pounds a month to finally fix a board that has been erected incorrectly at a house in Fife. The customer has emailed me directly to complain and he’s right, it has taken too long to remedy despite us kicking the third party several times to attend to the problem over the past two weeks…

Tried to placate a concerned buyer whose offer has been accepted on a house but where the lender’s surveyor disagrees with the sale price…

And another buyer frustrated at our selling client being unwilling to confirm a completion date three months after the original offer was accepted. I’ve been asked to help but, to be frank, may fall short at ushering the owner out of the house against their will…

To top it all, it rained today.

I wonder if most CEOs would interrupt their vacations where it was necessary to respond to problems back at base and to reply personally to customer emails no matter what? Notwithstanding the ‘comfort’ of an Out of Office Reply being in place.

It helps to have a VERY understanding wife, too.

Inconvenient it may be but if you are serious about being number one in your industry, or even two, three or four, I don’t see that there’s any other way to be in today’s demanding business environment where the customer expects much but has an ever easier choice as to where to get it.

Still, the flight back this Sunday evening is four hours long. Assuming my little darlings sleep, I might just get a few moments to relax before facing up to the usual elbowing at the baggage carousel 🙂


This ‘boss blog’ was delivered by Russell Quirk, Founder and CEO of