CEO Mike Hoffman oversees operations and aligns corporate functions with SBIA‘s business strategy to achieve scaled growth and customer success
As I prepared to take on the role of CEO at a company in transition that was on the brink of massive growth and facing economic turbulence, I reflected on conversations I had with other CEOs. I’ve learned that there are a number of qualities that a leader needs – not just inherent skills, but also skills that need to be developed – in order to run their business successfully. Here are some of the takeaways that have served me well.
Self-awareness is essential.
Not surprisingly, no CEO is perfect. By recognizing your weaknesses, however, you can prepare yourself and your team to make up for shortcomings. It is better to know your limitations and address them proactively than to wait for your board to tell you what they are and how they want you to solve them.
If self-assessment and introspection aren’t your strong points, explore some alternatives. Take a 360-degree assessment with your team or hire a company like GH Smart to identify your blind spots. Continue Gallup strong finderdo a DiSC rating for yourself and your team, and/or complete an EQ assessment. You may even consider hiring an executive coach. The unfiltered truth will set you on the path to success.
Build your team.
Once you have a baseline assessment, surround yourself with a highly effective leadership team that can help you make up for your strength deficits. When you slide into the CEO seat, you inherit a team, and you will have to make them your team. Because every CEO has a different set of strengths, they need additional capabilities from their executive team.
Take an inventory of yourself and your team to identify gaps and redundancies, then make the necessary changes. You will probably have to make some people decisions, and it is better to make them earlier in your tenure. One of my mentors once told me, “You almost always know when you don’t have the right person in a role, and you usually wait too long to change anything.”
Find a way to empower decisions deep and broad across the organization.
I had the luxury of serving as COO for over three years before taking over as CEO, so my learning curve on how the company worked was less steep than if I came into a new company as CEO. In any new leadership role, you need to learn as much as possible with as much immersion as possible. Many CEOs and executives want to make an immediate impact, but it’s very difficult to make good decisions if you don’t know the full picture and haven’t heard from all team members.
If you come back up for air between dips, be ready to do two things:
1. Start forming your POV on strategy and key initiatives.
2. Find out how you enable and empower decision-making deep and broad across the company.
Don’t put yourself on the critical path of any decision. According to an Florida State University studyPeople can only make a finite number of good decisions per day. As a CEO, save your energy for important decisions and delegate the rest.
Keep your ego in check.
If you want to be CEO because you have to tell people what to do, I have bad news for you: this is a selfless job. If you’re thinking, “I have thousands of people working for me,” you’re looking at it wrong. The reality is that you work for now them. You are responsible for ensuring that everyone in your organization has the tools and resources they need to be successful and reach their full potential.
It is also important to understand that as a CEO, you are just another member of the executive leadership team with a different set of responsibilities. It is true that you have executive power, which can be compared to a pulpit for bullying, but you must use it sparingly. Great CEOs rely more on their persuasiveness and ability to bring everyone to a collective agreement. So beware of excessive use of your strength. You should save it for business-critical situations when you need to make immediate change.
Get the most out of your plate.
Now that I’ve made this job seem a lot harder and less glamorous, I’ll share a lesser-known CEO superpower: you don’t work for the board. Many CEOs are afraid of their board members and dread the mandatory meetings. But you need to come into the role thinking that your board is working for you and that it is their job to execute your strategy.
Before you have your first meeting, think about what role you want the board to play and take the agenda and expectations into your own hands. Understand each member’s experience, determine how you can use their expertise to optimize strategy, and make sure you share the responsibility of keeping the board working by assigning each member of your executive leadership team a corresponding board member point to manage.
In an earlier https://cafe-madrid.com/ In an article, I explained that the CEOs I speak to regularly about what they’ve learned in their roles all agree that they would have gone faster and doubled the actions they took. I’m beginning to understand that part of the reason for this is that as a CEO, you have a slim chance of leading the company on its path to success and growth.
So buckle up, move fast and follow all the advice you can get – because until you sit in this chair, you don’t know what you don’t know.