When one is asked to take a C-level or board position in the current environment, it can be very difficult to immediately gauge the true character of a company, public or private, regardless of filings, reports, disclosures, and discussions. The character of a company is just as important as its financial position and its corporate culture. There are, however, several signs which will warn you of a real battle ahead, one which you might even choose to miss rather than be additional inevitable collateral damage:
1. Orchestration of Information: Informational flow is heavily controlled by one person so that different teams, departments, and leaders all end up relying on a single source for critical direction.
2. Upwards informational sanitization in the guise of rank appropriate filtration.
3. Organizational terrorism enforcing artificial hierarchy and separation of silos, and stifling communication and joint action.
4. Extreme CEO/Chairman-in either direction-dictatorial or disengaged, central genius or out to lunch.
5. Extreme CFO-delegated central power, runs the company strictly to grow the numbers, and controls the numbers.
6. Nuanced discrepancies between the CFO’s words and personnel’s facts.
7. History of performance compensation calculated on value of closed transactions and/or short-term growth, regardless of quality, sustainability and durability.