Leadership is important in any business, and it comes from the executive board and corporate management. Corporate management consists of the managers and executives that are in charge of the various departments and leadership positions within the company. The structure might vary from company to company, and the extent of this corporate management structure can be multi-leveled or somewhat flat depending on the organization’s needs.
Corporate management is the group of senior executives and managers who are responsible for leading, directing and administrating an organization.
Corporate management works as a team to lead and direct the company’s work toward the executive-level goals. Managers are expected to understand the strategic goals of the company and then work to allocate company resources to obtain those objectives.
Managers at the same level are expected to work together, bringing their teams into play strategically to complete tasks and projects assigned to their department. Managers at different levels communicate as well, sending reports and data back and forth and ensuring that all of the ongoing work is moving in the right direction.
There are several ways to model and examine the structure and purpose of corporate management. These multiple points of view help in understanding why companies choose certain management structures, and all have advantages and disadvantages.
The first set of models examines corporate management structures that have grown from regional cultures and customs. These models characterize corporate management based on the way control and power are divided at the top level. The main differences between the three models are the portion of the company’s influencers that are considered insiders (part of the company’s structure) versus outsiders (external shareholders, etc).
This model separates the control of the organization between managers, the board of directors and shareholders completely outside of the corporate structure. The board of directors normally consists of both internal (executive directors) and external (independent representatives) seats to further balance the company’s decision-making process.
Traditionally, there's a CEO who sits at the head of the board of directors who has the power to make final decisions. This three-way balance is meant to keep the company responsive to its shareholders as well as responsible to the executive structure.
This model splits company leadership and ownership between the banks, company management, the government and major internal shareholders. Most of the company ownership is thus internal, and a major portion is owned by banks and industrial groups that partake in shareholding. The board of directors thus consists of many internal executives; however, seats on the board are contingent on the company’s profits, and the banks and other bodies can remove individuals and replace them with their own.
This model consists of a management board (internal executives) and a supervisory board (external positions, such as labor or shareholder representatives) that work to balance each other out when making company-directing decisions.
Within all of these models, it’s the job of corporate management to take the decisions made by these driving parties and implement them downward. In these cases, they have to work with multiple other levels of management. The corporate-level managers get their directives and goals from the executive managers, directors and officers.
Corporate managers need to be able to share enough information about the company’s current operations and status that the executives, the board of directors and shareholder representatives can make good decisions based on current data. They then have to accept the decisions the chief officers have made and be the representatives of those objectives for the other parts of the company. Corporate managers have to focus on the strategic use of resources, but they also need to consider the capabilities of their departments and figure out ways to best use their employees.
Corporate managers often have a set of middle managers or lower-level supervisors reporting to them rather than a team of individual contributors. It’s their job to help direct and guide the management structure beneath them to represent the company’s values and help them develop and lead their employees such that the executive objectives can be completed. They need to work with the management beneath them to understand the resources available and strategically apply them to their goals.
Corporate managers need to embody good leadership traits to be successful in their roles. They need to think strategically and long-term but also make good decisions in a timely manner to keep the company moving forward. Many of the obvious leadership traits are required for success in this type of position.
- Building successful relationships: Corporate managers need to have effective professional relationships with the executive officers, board of directors and shareholder representatives. These relationships need to embody trust and respect so that there can be a real collaboration between the company’s leaders and those external bodies a company reports to so information can be passed on easily.
- Listening when communicating: Corporate management isn’t just about a manager giving direction; it’s also about listening to what other parties are saying and what they need and then responding directly to those issues. Management can help build important trust by showing that they're hearing what teammates are telling them about the business.
- Decision making: Corporate managers need to be able to make good decisions based on the data available. They should recognize when additional data is needed but should also have a good corporate foundation to build on when information isn’t available and the decision needs to be made. Good leaders make decisions, own them and remain accountable for them. They should also empower their subordinates to make independent decisions and support them when they do.
- Strategic Planning: Corporate managers are the first stop when executive leadership makes a decision to be implemented downward. They must understand how to turn this into a plan that’s capable of meeting the target and feasible enough to have little risk. They’re responsible for making the plans that lower management tiers are then expected to implement.
These aren’t the only skills required, but they’re particularly key at the level where corporate managers operate. In many ways, they’re the level most responsible for creating and driving corporate strategy.
Corporate strategy is the term used to describe the long-term vision an organization sets as its goal to continue to increase the value of the company and provide value to both its customers and shareholders. It’s a continuous process, one that must be revised at intervals to stay relevant in changing marketplaces and with changing financial landscapes. It captures the direction the company wants to take and the concept of what the company should be in the future to be successful and sustaining.
Developing the strategy itself requires the following steps:
- Develop the mission or vision: In this step, the management team must establish the purpose of their company and what they want it to be in the future. The vision itself consists of the definition of these dreams as to how the company could evolve.
- Define the values of the company: The core values of the company are guide points as to how all employees are expected to perform in order to make the vision a reality. Defining these as part of the strategy sets them as guiding points that become a key part of the company culture.
- Analyze the current position: A strategy needs a starting point, and the starting point needs to capture a snapshot of the company’s current status and potential opportunities. This should include an evaluation of the company’s strengths and weaknesses.
- Set objectives: This requires taking the dream concepts from the vision and turning them into actual strategies with timelines and deadlines. Strategies should work together to help guide company growth and change. The objectives should describe how the company intends to turn the vision into reality.
- Evaluate resources: Compile the current resources, which can include funding streams, employee headcount, projected performance and market analysis. It’s important to understand where pockets of skills and opportunity might exist to help meet the objectives that now exist.
Once the strategy has been developed, there are a few key components to implementing the strategy. They involve looking at the information gathered about the company’s current state and the resources available and then making arrangements as best suits the long-term mission for the company. These components of implementation include:
- Allocating Resources: Once resources have been identified, it’s up to corporate management to allocate them as needed to meet objectives. The main two resources to manage are employees (skill sets, years of experience, etc.) and capital (funding to invest in the business for future yields). Corporate management should initiate any rearrangement, additional hiring or development required to meet the objectives as set out by the vision.
- Organizational Structure: The resources identified above must then be allocated to the appropriate departments; it’s corporate management’s job to ensure there’s a management and organizational structure in place that will support the projects and functions the business will need to perform. It’s also important to set the reporting structure in a way that makes sense for the objectives and strategies that will be required.
- Portfolio Management: Corporate management must also look outside the business and make decisions based on future product development. The overall vision will define what markets the company should be moving into or out of, how the business units relate to one another and how to define potential opportunities that might open up new business.
- Managing Trade-Offs: The strategy should also define the balance at which corporate management should manage risk/reward opportunity scenarios. This includes a standardized method of looking at risk management and potential value streams and should set the tone across all company units as to what sort of opportunities fit within this risk management platform and which would be outside.
These components form the core of the corporate manager’s job responsibilities. Once the overall long-term vision is delivered by the top leadership — no matter what sort of corporate model is being used — it’s these company leaders that sit down and decide what pieces of the company will allow them to complete this puzzle.
Corporate managers look at the company’s organizational structure with an eye on not just what’s fixed now but what could be possible if manpower and headcounts were shifted between departments. They look at the company’s production, normal operations and revenue and try to identify opportunities for change that can better balance a company’s portfolio. This also helps them understand the risk involved in any particular opportunity and how to judge its value against the company’s baseline.
Corporate managers are expected to be strong leaders who can build trust both with top executives and intermediate management, as well as understand their role in communicating and implementing a company’s long-term vision.