Category Archives: Planning

Uniquely Yours

It’s not just lonely, but also unique at the top. You must hold yourself accountable for certain responsibilities that cannot be delegated to others. The challenge is that, if you’re like most CEOs, you also hold yourself accountable for many items that could indeed be delegated.

If you are buried in the weeds of your business 24/7, your business will eventually bury you. Yes, most CEOs must devote significant time to working within their business. But if you haven’t already developed the discipline of spending at least 2% of your time each month (about a half day) stepping back and working on your business, your business is likely to continue to run you rather than the other way around.

What are those unique accountabilities that only you can assume?

  1. Establish your vision of where the company needs to go, and communicate it clearly and frequently.
  2. Find and retain employees who can help get you there.
  3. Lead the creation and routine updating of company goals, strategies, and action plans that will help get you there.
  4. Protect the corporate assets (physical and financial) while making sure you are using them to help get you there.
  5. Assure that the various parts of the company are coordinated and working together to deliver customer value at a profit, and to help get you there.

In a sense, being CEO has a lot to do with attitude and perspective. Consciously accepting this higher level of accountability is a way of your ultimately exiting your business on your terms.

Why not keep score for a few months? Copy the list of accountabilities and keep them close by. Make a daily or weekly note of your estimated time spent in each of the five areas. Hold yourself accountable – or get somebody else to do so – for tracking how much time you actually spend on these important areas. Then make appropriate adjustments.

The CEO’s Planning Omissions

It’s been my experience that many CEO’s either omit or give short shrift to three major parts of their annual business plan.  The first is how they wrestle through Critical Success Factors. These links between the upfront analytical sections of your plan and the downstream implementation sections provide a solid reality check against your objectives. They also force you to consider all reasonable alternative strategies for achieving your major objectives. Continue reading

Do You Hear What I Hear?

In the holiday season just past, I often heard one of my favorite Christmas songs. The lyrics incorporate three questions:

  • Do you see what I see?
  • Do you hear what I hear?
  • Do you know what I know?

While the poetry and melody surrounding the three questions are lovely, my mind occasionally drifts to the application of these questions to the life of the CEO. With regard to your employees, be aware that they do not see what you see; they do not hear what you hear; they do not know what you know.

This is an especially relevant point at the beginning of a new year. Continue reading

Understanding Why

Have you ever thought about how important your understanding of motivation is to your success as a CEO?  Consider…

Effective selling requires understanding why a particular customer is “shopping”.

Effective marketing demands effectively communicating why your company does what it does.

Effective leadership requires your understanding why your partners and employees get out of bed to come to work in the morning.

Most important of all, why do you put so much energy into your company?  And how clearly have you communicated this purpose to your audiences?

The better grip you can get on why, the better CEO you will be.  Suggested reading: Start with Why by Simon Sinek.

Great CEOs Don’t Overlook the Nuggets

CEO Training by the SBTDC

CEO Trainer

I participate in leading a program for business owners that is offered by the Delaware Small Business Technology and Development Center (SBTDC).  The participants meet once a week for three hours over a six week period.  During that time they become engaged in a thoughtful analysis of their business and of their plan for that business.  The SBTDC calls this their Business Development Network.

This program covers the fundamentals of running and ultimately exiting a successful business.  While I was listening to Carla Holland (shown in photo) launch another six-week series recently, I made a list of the basic concepts she discussed in that first session.  They are listed below. Continue reading

Launching

CEO decision-making can be a lot like paragliding

Jackson Hole Paragliding

Have you ever jumped off a mountain tethered to a piece of fabric? Tandem paragliding has a lot in common with business ownership.  If you have launched your own business, or have bought a business, or have made a decision to redirect, or turnaround, or chart a new course for your business, you can understand the parallel.

First off, you cannot do it alone.  Continue reading

Bringing It All Together

Recommended reading for any CEO

Handbook

What’s the most difficult job in the world?  Raise that question the next time you gather socially with friends.  Bet you get a lot of discussion.

Recommended reading for any CEO

How-To Book

The job of CEO should be at least a finalist in the discussion.  Any CEO job, large or small, presents the challenge of bringing many things together.  I’ve been reminded of this recently in my readings of The CEO Code by David Rohlander and The Alignment Factor by Allen E. Fishman.  Rohlander attempts to encompass the responsibilities of the CEO by organizing them into three broad categories: communication, execution, and operations.  Fishman’s categories are commitment, communication, culture, and collaboration.

If you are the owner and CEO of a small to midsize business, you have an appreciation of the breadth of skills required to build and sustain a successful enterprise.  More likely than not, you understand the magnetic pull of the daily urgent demands that would keep you from maintaining the long view – from developing your key employees – from identifying future opportunities and threats.  Each author takes a slightly different approach to defining the job and inviting action on the part of the reader.  Rohlander has provided what might be considered an abbreviated handbook on the role of CEO.  Fishman has focused on the strategies and actions that provide alignment of people throughout the organization.  Both works deserve your attention.

I’ll Take the Combo

A truly successful CEO is able to combine really big thinking with down and dirty execution.  I’ve been fortunate in my career to have had two bosses who worked that combination well.

I was reminded of the power of this combo a couple years ago when my son recommended a book by Howard Bloom titled, The Genius of the Beast: A Radical Re-Vision of Capitalism.  This one is filled with big ideas.  I wondered how many American CEOs were reading it.  Here are a few pithy excerpts: Continue reading

Misdiagnosis

A smart CEO consults both experts and peers when diagnosing what ails the business.A dear friend was recently told by her physician that her cancer had returned…and that she probably would not survive six months.  My friend sought a second and third opinion, after which the diagnosis was changed substantially.  While she does indeed have a recurrence of cancer, the type is significantly different from the original diagnosis.  It is treatable without harsh chemicals or radiation, and the new prognosis is for many additional years of life.  Can you imagine the emotional roller coaster she’s been on?

A misdiagnosis can be tragic in any situation, even when it applies to your business.  As CEO, how can you minimize the chance of this type of mistake?  Continue reading

A New Season

CEOs need to recognize their need for an occasional spring training and to make the most of it

A tool from my past

I’m a baseball fan and the start of a new season is always exciting.  In addition to my interest in the sport, spring training reminds me of a business parallel – a comparison to a business in the mode of re-starting, or re-engineering, or resurrection.  Two of the qualities you want to see in your baseball team during spring training are: Hunger and Health.  Likewise, if you are leading a business with the potential for improvement, it would be good if you are also both hungry and healthy. Continue reading