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Effective CEOs

Six Disciplines Of The Most Efficient CEOs

Effective CEOs

Whether you are an entrepreneur running your own company or you were brought in to take a company to the next level, as a CEO, there are many forces at play that try to prevent you from performing at your best. And as a leader and chief executive, if you are not performing at your best, your team and company will suffer the same fate.

As a coach, I get the opportunity to see what is really going on in the minds of entrepreneurs and CEOs. Often times, it looks like a blender running at full speed. There are so many competing ideas, priorities, deadlines, people issues, etc. that want your full attention right now, and without discipline, they could prevent your company from scaling up.

Here are six critical disciplines for becoming the most efficient CEO possible: a breakaway CEO.

1. Accept that conflict is part of the role.

The mental energy CEOs spend working through conflicts can slow down decision making more than anything else. All CEOs have conflict management built into their role, it’s just important to determine what the conflict is about and how much of it is present. Becoming more aware of the different forms of role-related conflict is crucial for CEOs to make the best decision quickly.

For example, there are people-related conflicts, such as an underperforming key manager, resource conflicts or constraints within the company, or time conflicts, like managing the strategic versus the urgent or helping a manager solve a problem versus stepping in yourself. Accept these conflicts as part of your role and leverage them as learning opportunities for you and your team.

2. Differentiate the people and operational sides of the business.

There are two sides of the business that drive growth. One side, the “spirit side,” is related to people. This is company culture, how employees show up mentally every day, and the values and standards that teams live and make decisions by. The opposite, “mechanical side” is more operational. It relates to meeting functionality, agendas, company process and procedures.

Breakaway CEOs focus on always improving both the people and the mechanical side of the business in a balanced way. Being able to step back and ask, “Is this issue really a people-related problem or is it more of a process-related problem?” is a powerful way to make better decisions. Don’t let poor processes and a lack of routine create drama on the people side of your business.

3. Develop your leaders.

As CEO, you have an immense influence on how works get done and by whom. You have the authority to command and direct people and resources in an instant to take advantage of an opportunity or solve a problem. Breakaway CEOs know they must develop leaders before they step into leadership positions and continue their development once in that role.

A lack of true leadership in a company that’s trying to scale up creates a chaotic organization in which culture crumbles and operations slow down due to lack of trust. Though it takes more time and energy in the short term to develop someone into a leader, it pays off in dividends later when you really need it.

4. Put your own mask on first before helping others.

The body and mind are connected, and an unhealthy body leads to an unhealthy mind. I see a strong pattern of CEOs who don’t take care of themselves, and the overall health of their organization suffers as well.

Breakaway CEOs know they have the power to prioritize their agenda and personal well being. This all comes down to discipline. There is nothing worse for a company than a stressed-out CEO with his or her mental blender on full speed.

Even if you feel you can’t step away from the business to work on yourself, know that your team members will support it. They see and feel the benefits themselves.

5. Align your agenda with the company’s priorities.

The No. 1 trap CEOs fall into is becoming the fixer. Fixing problems creates immediate results, but the price is slower team development and ultimately slower company growth.

Breakaway CEOs know their agendas need to closely reflect the company’s short-term and long-term initiatives. Don’t let day-to-day issues creep in excessively to slow down advancement. Your calendar should reflect initiatives that support growth.

6. Understand how your behavior drives the business.

How you do things is equally as important as what you do. Breakaway CEOs know that the key to driving culture, values, trust and influence rests on how they behave on a daily basis.

How are major issues handled? What is the public persona of the CEO? What values and frameworks drive the big decisions?

If you are going to be a CEO, be a breakaway CEO. The result is a company that scales faster while being more fun to run along the way.


Article originally seen on Forbes.com

Forbes Coaches Council

Alignment

Make This Quarter Count. Align.

Alignment

Is everyone aligned with the #1 thing that needs to be accomplished this quarter to move the company forward?* Do they even know what it is?

If not, consider these 3 questions:

1) Have you and your management team identified & prioritized the three most important “rocks” or priorities that must be accomplished in this quarter to hit your one-year goal?

2) How have you communicated these priorities & gained buy-in/ownership throughout your organization?

3) Have you set a “theme” for this quarter’s #1 priority & set up a “scoreboard” to make the metrics top-of-mind & increase engagement?

Insight CXO helps coachable CEOs inspire leadership, accelerate growth, & crush the competition. We bring clarity and alignment to people, strategy, execution & cash flow in measurable sprints across the organization – from the management team on down. Our goal is to help you double your business (or more) in 3-5 years.

*Verne Harnish created the “Rockefeller Habits” based on the leadership and management principles used by John D. Rockefeller. #2 of 10 Rockefeller Habits: “Everyone is aligned with the #1 thing that needs to be accomplished this quarter to move the company forward.”
Outward Focus

Mind Whiplash for Overcoming Stage Fright: Focus Outward vs. Inward

Outward Focus

A comment card from many years before was tormenting me again… “Gary is better 1-on-1 than in speaking in front of a crowd.” My take: “He sucks at public speaking.”

As I was preparing to serve as the emcee at another 2-1/2 day retreat with hundreds of notable business owners & their spouses, I was being haunted by stinging (& true) words from my past.

I felt like Moses must have felt when he was asked by God to go back to Egypt & deliver a speech to Pharaoh. Moses replied, “Oh, my Lord,…I am slow of speech & tongue.”

As I poured out my fears in prayer the night before our retreat, it hit me: “A servant isn’t to be concerned about how he is PERCEIVED. A servant is to focus on SERVING — not on how people are perceiving him.”

Mind whiplash: Focus outward, not inward.

At the retreat, I fought hard to focus on SERVING our guests in my emcee duties rather than how they were perceiving me. When I would see someone in the audience tune me out, I forced the thought, “Serve them!” Not, “How am I doing?”

Amazingly, as I shifted from how I was BEING PERCEIVED to focus on how I was SERVING, I started having a blast.

Those pesky post-event comment cards? Many commented on how welcome I made them feel & how natural I was in speaking before an audience.

If they only knew…

Insight CXO helps bring clarity and alignment to people, strategy, execution & cash flow in measurable sprints across the organization — from the management team on down. We’re here to serve.

Lightbulb

Address These 4 Questions & Unlock Greater Opportunities for Growth…

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Besides success, what did Hugh McColl & Sam Walton have in common? They walked among their troops. They personally sought frontline input.

Management ALWAYS sets the tone.

In every successful company in which I worked or advised, C-Suite members routinely walked among the frontline & sought their insights.

They didn’t outsource it to HR or Marketing. They weren’t isolated in their ivory tower.

If you are serious about scaling up, deepening employee & customer loyalty, gaining more freedom, & having more fun along the way, here are 4 questions to address from the 5th Rockefeller Habit*:

1) Are ALL of your executives (& middle managers) having a Start/Stop/Keep conversation with at least one employee weekly?

2) Are the insights from employee conversations shared at your weekly executive team meeting?

3) Is employee input about obstacles & opportunities being collected weekly?

4) Do you have a mid-management team responsible for the process of closing the loop on all obstacles & opportunities?

If you are actively addressing these, congrats! If not, we’re here to help.

*Verne Harnish created the “Rockefeller Habits” based on the leadership and management principles used by John D. Rockefeller.
Executive Health

Four Questions to Evaluate the Health & Alignment of Your Executive Team*…

Executive Health

Looking for ways to help realize your company’s growth goals? Here are four questions to evaluate the health and alignment of your executive team:

1) Do your executive team members understand each other’s differences, priorities, & styles?

2) Does your executive team meet frequently (weekly is preferred) for strategic thinking?

3) Does your executive team participate in ongoing executive education (monthly is recommended)?

4) Is your executive team able to engage in constructive debates and are all members comfortable in participating?

If you are looking for outside help in strengthening & aligning your company’s executive team, we’d love to help.

Insight CXO helps coachable CEOs inspire leadership, accelerate growth, and crush the competition. We bring clarity and alignment to strategy, people, and execution in measurable sprints across the organization – from the management team on down. Our goal is to help you double your business (or more) in three to five years.

*Verne Harnish created the “Rockefeller Habits” based on the leadership and management principles used by John D. Rockefeller. #1 of 10 Rockefeller Habits: “The executive team is healthy and aligned.”
Soccer Team

3 Powerful Business Lessons from a Colombian Superstar Turned Coach…

Soccer Team

To everyone else, Hugo Galeano (#4) was a Colombian soccer superstar. To my son and our family, he was a defining and positive influence who exemplifies the lasting impact a great coach can make. Hugo’s actions gave me three timeless lessons that I’ve tried to embody when I am coaching other CEOs and their teams.

In Colombia, Hugo was a superstar athlete and national hero. He had it all – skill, speed, money, fame. He eventually left Columbia after the 1998 World Cup – years after the tragic 1994 World Cup in which one of his teammates was murdered for an own goal. When we met him in 2001, he was living in Charlotte far from the notoriety he enjoyed in Colombia. He was still playing soccer at the USL level with the Charlotte Eagles but he was also coaching a group of 12 year-old boys. One of those boys was my son.

1. A great coach isn’t focused on himself – he’s focused on the team he’s coaching.

Hugo was a Colombian hero and his native language wasn’t English. In spite of his fame and difficulties with English, he clearly communicated to all (kids, parents, and other teams) through his HUMILITY and ACTIONS that this gig wasn’t about him. It was about the kids – individually and collectively as a team.

2.  A great coach sees the potential in others and helps THEM see, believe, and achieve it.

At first glance, many of the kids assigned to his team weren’t the top athletes in the league. My son was a goalie initially largely because he could wear cool gear and not have to run as much as the others. In one of the early games, he was scored on unmercifully. Yet, Hugo saw potential. He helped my son see the potential he had within himself. Under Hugo’s mentoring, I saw my son develop a passion and belief that he could become a great goalie. He blossomed into an intensely focused, accomplished athlete who excelled as a goalie throughout high school and college. He is now an active CrossFitter. Hugo was the coach whose wisdom, humility, and encouragement unlocked my son’s potential and positively impacted him, his team, and our entire family by his example.

3. A great coach facilitates daily discipline and short-term milestones to realize the team’s ultimate goal.

Hugo tapped into the individual and collective goals and dreams of the kids. With those goals and dreams set as the destination, he encouraged THEM to find the drive from within to adhere to the daily discipline of the fundamentals so that when it came time to meet their competition, they were ready. They set long-term goals, worked on short-term tasks, and worked together as a championship team because of it.

Does your team have alignment in your long-term goals? How well are they working together on the short-term priorities necessary to reach your long-term goals?

Your Team Craves Accountability

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Accountability is a very interesting topic. When engaged by the CEO, one of the top wish list items for the company to accomplish is the issue of No Accountability. My response to this is, “I bet within one week, your team will be asking for Accountability and they will resort to their own measures.” I usually get a funny look as the CEO nods yes, but in reality they are saying inside their heads: “That is impossible”… “Not my team.” Why is there this disconnect regarding Accountability between the CEO and the rest of the company?

When launching a new client, one of the first things we do is what we call ‘Innerviews.’ We Innerview select employees from the senior team, key players in the company, and anyone in particular that the CEO would like included. These Innerviews allow for the company to be seen through the employees’ lens. We are not simply interviewing the employee, but rather engaging with them on a peer-to-peer level and asking a few simple, yet powerful, questions. These Innerview questions include:

  1. Why did you start working here? Why are you still here?
  2. What frustrates you the most? Drives you crazy? Repetitive things?
  3. How would you rate teamwork from 1 (bad) to 10 (awesome)?
  4. How would you rate the morale/spirit of the company 1 to 10?
  5. How would you rate communication from 1 to 10?
  6. How would you rate leadership from 1 to 10? This is really a self-rating.

NOTE: Whatever the rating is above, I always ask what it would take to get it closer to a 10. This is where the REAL content I’m looking for comes from. Rather than complaining about teamwork, what would actually improve it?

The BIG Innerview questions are:

  1. If you were CEO for 90 days, what three things would you do?
  2. What are the ‘undiscussables?’ What is below the waterline that everyone knows about, but is not safe to talk about?

Notice the one question I did not ask is about Accountability. Accountability is the ‘red thread’ that links everything together during the Innerview. What tends to frustrate team members the most is the lack of Accountability and follow through by other team members. They can’t do their job right because other people are not doing their job right or following through on commitments. Basically, your employees are as frustrated as you are.

How can the issue of Accountability be resolved? You can start by including your team during your strategic and execution planning. Let them help finalize company goals and priorities vs just assigning them out. Let them work through the steps and tasks to make them happen. Let them decide who is accountable for each step. Give your team a chance to volunteer to own the company Race Plan by determining goals, priorities, and tasks… They will.

(Image: Unsplash / Pixabay)

Stop Reviewing Your Employees

employees-936804_1280Performance reviews suck for so many reasons. Entrepreneurs avoid them, because there are way too many other things to do. Managers rarely do them right, and if they do, they don’t prepare properly. Employees hate them because they usually are tied to negative things and money. They usually happen only once a year … if they happen.

Yet, if performed correctly, they are one of the most powerful things a company can do. I speak from experience, having won “Best Places to Work” awards more than 20 times at companies I have founded or coached.

What you need to do instead of a review:

Rather than a typical review, what’s really needed is a formal Alignment Meeting. The overarching purpose is for the manager and employee to walk away with complete clarity and actions that drive the job role: the accountabilities, the goal numbers, etc. Reviewing all the company’s Core Values is a powerful method to make sure the employee is doing the work the right way from a behavioral perspective. For example, do you have a sales superstar who drives your customer service team to tears? This is a great way to address the issue in a collaborative and non-threatening way.

Also missing from most reviews is spending some time discussing the Core Processes and Activities that drive the job function – the ones that have the most impact. Ask what is the most important thing to do and is it on the calendar weekly as a priority item? What processes support the core activities? And what things create busyness but do not really drive results? Simple process with powerful outcomes.

Here are 8 tips to pull off a powerful Alignment Meeting:

  1. Be prepared. Treat this as the number one thing you’ll do as a manager. This is your A-Race. Set an example of preparedness. This is how your employees will do their Alignment Meetings with their employees down the line.
  1. Create a great experience with your employee. This is not a beat-down session. It’s about getting alignment around what is important and agreement on what can be worked on in the next 90 days.
  1. Use the word Together. Work on action plans Together. You’ll be surprised at how many times you’ll walk away from leading an Alignment Meeting with stuff to work on and improve on as well.
  1. Create a safe environment for candor. Not making this a review tied to money is the trick to this.
  1. Tell them why this is important. I’ll say something like, “I care about you and your health and happiness, I care about our relationship and our willingness to work Together, and I care about doing the right things to move our company forward. This conversation is about these three things.”
  1. Pick 2-3 things to work on each 90 days. Look for themes or “red threads” throughout the conversation. Don’t nitpick each line item. Ask what can we work on that would drive the most improvement … create the biggest impact?
  1. Be vulnerable as the manager. This will help you get to the real issues your employee is dealing with at work. You can’t help fix what you don’t know about. Put your ego aside.
  1. Have fun! You both should walk out totally energized! Don’t be surprised if you get an unexpected hug, handshake or even some happy tears.

Never do another review. Stop, please!!! Instead, start Alignment Meetings now!

(Image: Marlon Malabanan / Flickr)

What is Your Company’s Promise to the World?

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What is a BRAND PROMISE?  In short, it is what your firm is promising to the world and it is what (hopefully) makes your firm unique.  At Insight CXO, we believe a powerful Brand Promise can give you leverage in the market and operational insight more than almost anything else you do.  The definition of a Brand Promise is:

    1. Something your clients NEED and not just want. They can want you right out of business.
    2. Must be really HARD TO DO and hard to copy. Competitors should be scratching their heads on how you are pulling it off.
    3. MEASUREABLE.

It’s helpful to already know the Persona of the buyers and the market segment you want to own before creating your Brand Promise.  Next month’s BLOG will cover how to develop one.

Need

Think about your core customer and the things they need to be successful.  What are their options?  What is the pebble in their shoe?  What are their major jobs to be done?  What kind of ‘normalized pain’ are they living with?

Hard to Do

This is how you separate yourself from the pack and find a place where there is very little to no competition.  At first, the ideas to pull this off may seem crazy or even impossible.  But do not stop because this is exactly what your competitors will do. Keep driving deeper and start asking the operational questions that just might be the key to success. Remember the customers who will buy in on your Brand Promise will also buy for optimal profit.  A well deserved price increase or extra velocity in sales can fund the operations of the new Brand Promise.  Another way to think about operations is to think in terms of an anti-Brand Promise.  Things you will lower the value proposition on and related cost structure and double down on the operations that empower the Brand Promise.

Measurable

A good Brand Promise must be measurable by both you and the client.  It’s important to know how well you are doing on execution.  This becomes a great metric for the management team to focus on.  It’s how you know if your operations are really in support of your sales and marketing efforts or not.  I think this is the Holy Grail of running a business. The former CEO of Federal Express said there are two things every business should focus on.  “The Promise and the Process”.  Are your operations really setup and perfectly aligned with what the sales team is selling and what the marketing team is promoting?  This is where we see the most internal conflict and frustration.  What is being sold is not properly aligned with what and how things are produced.

Find your unique BRAND PROMISE and sell where there is no competition and get your entire organization in complete alignment!!!

 

Get Creative with a Quarterly Theme

brainstorming-441010_1280One of most misunderstood or left out components of the Gazelles One Page Strategic Plan is the QUARTERLY THEME section.  For larger companies, this is one of the most powerful and transformational techniques that you can leverage for growth.

Here’s the deal and reality.  You and your Senior team just had a quarterly retreat (you do have quarterly planning right?) and everyone is pumped up, aligned and ready for battle.  Then somehow, the core messages from the retreat fail to resonate with the rest of the staff.  They did not have a full day to discuss, debate and agree on what matters most.  And in less than a third of the way through the quarter, all of the momentum from the retreat is lost and it’s back to the old habits again.

The power of the Quarterly Theme is it connects the retreat to the rest of the company for the entire quarter. And the Theme is usually created in a way that is fun and keeps the #1 Thing from the retreat top of mind for everyone.  These Themes can be posted anywhere and there is almost never any issue with prospects or clients walking through and seeing the progress.  In my experience, talking about a Theme with an on-site prospect is a deal closer.  It changes the conversation from ‘what’ we do to ‘how’ we do it and run the business.  Trust and confidence is accelerated and so is the sale!

Involve employees to help with the creative aspect of the Theme and let them help decide what the reward is if they hit their goals.  They will ‘own it’ this way and won’t have to be sold on it.

The idea for the Quarterly Theme can come from several sources. My favorite Theme generation method is to connect the #1 Thing the company has to do in a quarter to win the race.  Just think about the power of having 100% of your staff thinking every day of the quarter on the #1 thing for the business!

Warning…Themes by design usually come last on the agenda in a retreat and are often left out due to lack of time or energy to complete.  Creating a Theme should be a high priority in the retreat Objectives and agree in advance what is going to happen if getting a Theme done is in jeopardy.


Here are five easy steps to create winning Quarterly Themes:

  1. Focus on the #1 Thing for the quarter or the top one or two Rocks (Priorities) for the Theme topic.
  2. Based on the above, determine what the measure of success is going to be.
  3. Allow the team to brainstorm and create a fun and engaging Theme including design.
  4. Create a reward to achieving the goal… does not have to be monetary.  The best usually do not.
  5. Discuss how the Theme will be communicated throughout the company and rolled out.