Tuesday, August 16, 2022

Be a Better CEO: Three Parenting Lessons

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Shreya Christinahttps://cafe-madrid.com
Shreya has been with cafe-madrid.com for 3 years, writing copy for client websites, blog posts, EDMs and other mediums to engage readers and encourage action. By collaborating with clients, our SEO manager and the wider cafe-madrid.com team, Shreya seeks to understand an audience before creating memorable, persuasive copy.

CEO of Lamah Technologies. Supporting technological innovation in Libya. Built the first digital address app in the country, Makani.

Every morning my wife, my 3 year old daughter and I watch a travel blogger video. “The one with the planes, Dad!” she usually yells as she launches herself at me. An hour or two later, I log in and send my COO a short message: “Hey Ahmed, how are you?”

Watching a video of someone traveling and sending a Slack message to my COO are two very different things, but they are also (oddly) very similar. As a parent and CEO, it’s non-negotiable to touch the basics every morning, whether that’s through a YouTube video or a phone call. My daughter soon taught me the importance of regularity, in business and at home.

My father started his business empire around the same time I was born. To me, it felt like home and business were completely different worlds he lived in. But now that I have a daughter and a company that aren’t too similar in age, I’m not so sure that’s true. If anything, I think being a parent has only made me a better CEO. Here’s how.

1. Your time is the most valuable thing you can offer.

Three doesn’t sound very old. But compared to one, it does feel that way. As my daughter gets older, she starts figuring out what she likes. And everything my daughter wants from me? My time. Does she like travel blog videos? Great, I make time for that every day. I stand up for her.

Being a CEO asks the same of you. Yes, you have responsibilities. You have to work hard for it, but I think the most important thing you can do for your team is just show up. It turns out that face-to-face meetings take up a lot of time 61% of the time of the average CEO (registration required)— but don’t just show up to the sit-down meetings. Walk past the offices of your employees.

When I’m in the office, I start each day by walking through and greeting employees. I often stop in different departments and chat, often about something not related to work. I now know almost all employees by their first name.

This is not a new focus for CEOs. Having unstructured, personal time with employees is critical (registration required). Especially in an increasingly remote world, these informal check-ins can help build strong relationships.

The bigger the company gets, the more challenging this can become. But it is never impossible. Find ways to discuss quality time with your employees, whether in a one-on-one or group setting.

2. Trust goes a long way, but it has to go both ways.

The older my daughter gets, the more we trust her alone. “Go clean up your toys!” or “just one cookie” are pretty common phrases in our house. She trusts our directions and we trust her to follow them. The moment trust has been broken (and this moment will come, of course), we will have to talk.

Our core value at the company is trust. To want to follow a leader, you have to trust him. And have your vision executed by a team? You as CEO must trust them right back (registration required).

I’ve found that the best way to cultivate this is through open communication – on an individual and corporate level. We recently had an employee whose performance was steadily declining. But this was not someone who was lazy. They had been with the company from the beginning and we had a strong relationship. So we sat down, myself, my COO and the employee, and we talked for almost three hours.

It was almost an intervention. But since then? The employee is back to his normal self. They trusted us and our input, and we trust that they will perform at their usual level again.

Don’t shy away from difficult conversations. Sometimes there is nothing more valuable than sitting down at the table and venting a conflict. I always bring my COO into these situations – have a third party help mediate the conversation, or even just make it more of a discussion.

3. Skills take time, but determination is a problem these days.

Children are a blank slate. They arrive without any skills. But looking at my daughter’s curiosity and determination, whether it’s to stand on her own two feet (literally) or learn how to use the iPad (of course), I trust that no matter how little she know, it will learn.

I look for the same behavior in potential employees – which once appeared in the form of a determined loitering boy. A young man stood outside the office and demanded to speak to me. He knew my name, but as I had passed him a few times without him noticing, I realized he didn’t really know me.

We could have ignored him. But I presented a scenario to my COO: What if this man is the next great genius?

He turned out to be 16. He was job seeking, ambitious, driven and clearly ready to do whatever was required. We ended up hiring him on a contract basis (after talking to his parents, of course), and he ended up joining us full-time.

The first months were basically a salad bar. We had him dip his toe in different parts of the business until he found what he liked. With absolutely no work experience, we had to train him. But with his drive, it was easy to do. It was the most unconventional way to hire people, but I felt that his ambition and openness to learn and grow would make him a good employee. And I was right.

When building your business, keep in mind: individuals focused on growth. What are their goals – more importantly, do they have goals? How is their work ethic? Look for real-life examples of determination.

I see the determination in my daughter’s eyes, and I saw it in the young man we hired as he stood waiting for hours to talk to me. Parenting and CEO-ing – they are sometimes not that different.


https://cafe-madrid.com/ Business Council is the leading growth and networking organization for entrepreneurs and leaders. Am I eligible?


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