CEOs, in particular, can benefit from constant improvement. Leading a company and its vision can be daunting. It is often said that being a great CEO is as much about grit as it's about talent. Many elements can be learned but then they need practice. At a recent Syndicate meeting, members shared some tips on what they felt is important in becoming a great CEO:
- Ask what's important
Have no more than three major priorities at any one time. Sure, there will always be a backlog of little things, but don't become a victim of a to-do list. Develop daily amnesia - ask yourself what's most important today.
- Focus on stakeholder value
Don't get too absorbed in passion for what you do and lose sight of what you are there to do i.e. drive stakeholder value. Create value for customers, your team and shareholders.
- Be the gatekeeper
Don't confuse delegation with gatekeeping. Be the ultimate gatekeeper - you're defining and setting the standard. People will push you to compromise for the sake of moving faster or for more freedom. Don't be tricked and stay true to yourself.
- Be self-reflective
Don't confuse confidence with self-reflection. Great CEOs are self-reflective and demanding of themselves. Never doubt yourself in front of the team. Doubt yourself when alone or looking in the mirror. Discover what the team needs from you. Good CEOs step up every day and don't become stagnant.
- Be fair and empathetic
Fairness comes first. CEOs may be tough and even brutal at times. CEOs must be fair in judgment and give credit where due. If a 'ball is dropped', hold people accountable, but when push comes to shove, swallow your pride. Be the bigger person, after all, you are the CEO. Show empathy not sympathy. Sympathy is letting emotions rule. Empathy is getting under people's skin to understand them. It's your job to get under the skin of customers, staff and stakeholders; find out what makes them tick. Be human. Emotional intelligence is as important (if not more) than analytical intelligence in operating business.
- Give clear direction
Provide clear goals and targets. Start with the grand vision and work backwards breaking it into milestones and goals. Keep everyone focus on the macro view. Delegate and hold people accountable - how much to delegate is one of the trickiest parts in managing. Delegate too little, you're micromanaging. Delegate too much, you get detached, details get missed and things go wrong.
- Lead by example
As CEO, you should be working harder, longer and care more than anyone else about the business. Show that commitment. A lot of the behaviour is shaped directly by the CEO. The best way to shape culture is to set the example.
- Don't just manage, lead
Managing and leading are two very different things. People tend to be good at one or the other. Managers know how to coordinate their team daily to reach targets. They are good at keeping tab with of all moving parts and nurturing, sometimes hand-holding people step by step. Managers do things right. Leaders do the right thing. As CEO, the job is finding the next thing the business needs to progress with. To do that, CEOs must be free from day-to-day management.
- Keep talking to the customers
No matter how big or busy, it's critical the CEO talks regularly to the customers.
What are your tips for being a better CEO?
The CEO Institute was founded in 1992. It is now Australia's leading membership organisation for CEOs and senior executives. It provides a forum for over 1,000 Chief Executive members to connect and share their learning with each other. In 2011, The CEO Institute became the world’s first global certification body for CEOs, and in 2013, partnered with UNESCO in support of the "Malala Fund for Girls' Right to Education". In 2014, they began offering their programs globally.
The CEO Syndicate is an exclusive peer support network for CEOs. The first meeting of The CEO Syndicate program was held in Melbourne in June 1992. Offices were opened in Adelaide in 1996 and Sydney and Brisbane in 1997, with Perth launching in 2007. In 2015, the New Zealand office opened.
The Future CEO program is a certification course designed by the business leaders of today for the business leaders of tomorrow. The first Future CEO meeting was held in Melbourne in May 2012. In 2014, the "Future CEO Scholarship Fund for Women" was established, and continues to be offered today.
Membership of The CEO Institute is by invitation only. To register your interest click enquire.