A majority of workers are usually working for companies, or in most cases, for other managers and bosses. And I’m sure you’ve had the thought life would be awesome and carefree as a CEO of some xyz company. I can just play golf all day or go on vacation every day of the year and just let the people I hire take charge.
Although everyone wants to work for themselves and own their own businesses, not everyone is fit as a CEO (not the same as founders). A few insights I learned from an article I read today How Difficult is it to be a CEO.
Lessons from this CEO:
- I didn’t want to be a CEO. The people who have a burning ambition to get there, excluding founders, are probably not suited to the role. This is the tragical paradox of the agency management model;
- Yes, it’s true – it’s lonely and everything is your fault;
- If you do your job properly you will work every waking hour, and need to be disciplined about keeping your body and mind healthy;
- You should aim to have a clear desk – seriously. You are the only person in the organisation with the heavy responsibility to ensure the long term survival of the enterprise. You can’t think about that with a full email inbox and a desk covered with papers. I was obsessive about clearing my inbox to zero each night, mainly by ignoring or giving one word answers to people who were seeking cover (people learn and it stops after a while). As CEO, if you don’t respond instantaneously, you can actually stop the organisation getting on and doing things. On the other hand;
- Be very, very accessible. Wander around purposefully. You’ll pick up what’s really going on, what people are really worried about, and then you can add value to the decisions your people are grappling with;
- Sack high performers who are a pain in the arse – again, seriously. The profits they make is usually dwarfed by the profits foregone by the waste of energy of everyone else being disrupted and demoralised by their bad behaviours;
- Look outward. The prison of an email inbox forces attention in an internal direction. Take your team on study tours. Look at parallel sectors. Talk to innovators in colleges. Read, read and read again (hooray for the iPad);
- Be very sensitive of your symbolic behaviour, because people notice and ape your behaviour. Be nice, Smile. Say hello to people (they are making the money to pay your wages). Show people that the front line is the most important, not the head offices or support centres or whatever name you give them. If your office environment isn’t egalitarian, you’re in the wrong century.
- Remember that on a daily basis you are probably the least important person in the organisation (most CEOs get this wrong). The person serving a customer is the most important. Believe me, it takes constant concentration to remain humble when everyone is laughing at your jokes, and;
- Even though your jokes probably aren’t that funny, it is your absolute priority to make working life rewarding for everyone that works in the organisation. Make it a happy, vibrant place. When your CFO delivers you an excellent piece of analysis, go to the whole FP&A team after you’ve appreciated it and thank them;
- Your success will be measured by growth and development after you’ve gone. If it tails off after you leave, you have been a terrible CEO. That’s why you have to think about your own succession from the first day you were appointed;
- You are not defined by your job. You will go, and be forgotten, and seeking a legacy is a fool’s errand
Some of these points are quite enlightening and very true. When I’m at a managerial position or a position with stress, I will remember to keep many of these in mind.
The post can be found here: How Difficult is it to be a CEO, written by Geoff Cooper on Quora.