Karan Bilimoria, founder of Cobra Beer, on the role of the CEO

Karan Bilimoria, founder of Cobra Beer, has lifted the company and the Cobra brand to achieve annual turnover of £96 million, selling across more than 45 countries worldwide. He has recently published a guide to entrepreneurship, drawing on his experiences and offering advice for prospective business owners in his own infectiously enthusiastic style.

SmallBusiness.co.uk reveals his tips on the role of the CEO.

CEO’s have a tough job to do, says Bilimoria. But just what should the role of the CEO involve? He identifies a number of aspects of the job that he believes are critical to doing it well:

Leadership: As a CEO, says Bilimoria, leadership is absolutely key. As the leader of a company, your role is to inspire, to motivate, to drive forward the whole company.

All round skills: He believes that the more of an all rounder you are, the better. ‘Lots of people find delegation difficult, especially when they have built a business up themselves. The key is to always take on people who are better than you are. A chief executive needs to be an all rounder, but ultimately they need to be good leaders who have the confidence in their team to delegate responsibility. Without wanting to sound arrogant, I’m reasonably good at marketing and sales and so on, but my directors are better than I could ever be.’

Team Building: It is the CEOs job to build a team of people who are the best at what they are doing, get them to work together and get that same level of integration throughout the company.

Delegate: Once you have assembled a team that you trust, you need to create the right organisational atmosphere and culture to allow them to get on with things. But you must also monitor and follow up on progress.

Communicate: As a chief executive, you should be constantly communicating with your team, regardless of where you are in the world. And it is also about coming up with ideas and feeding them through to the team, so they know that although they’ve been allowed to get on with things, you are still very much engaged as well: it is not a question of saying ‘Oh well, I will see you at the weekly management meeting and I don’t want to hear from you until then’.

Getting the balance right between detail and overview: As well as the regular formal reporting, Bilimoria says he gets minutes of meetings that are taking place throughout the company, going through all reports from subsidiaries, providing feedback where required. In this way a CEO can make sure that he is aware of everything that is going on. It is that attention to detail that Bilimoria believes is absolutely crucial, combined with the ability to stand back and take a strategic overview.

Vision: The chief executive, says Bilimoria, has got to have a vision, to display a certain confidence to show that they are somebody who is looking ahead, who knows where they are going and where the company is going. They have to have confidence and the faith that inspires others to go with them on that journey.

BOTTLED FOR BUSINESS: THE LESS GASSY GUIDE TO ENTREPRENEURSHIP by Karan Bilimoria with Steve Coomber, is available from Capstone.

Adam Wayland

Uriel Bruen

Adam was Editor of SmallBusiness.co.uk from 2006 to 2008 and prior to that was staff writer on sister publication BusinessXL Magazine.

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