If you’re new to being the CEO, start with these simple steps to get your bearings. In short, learn how to fake it until you make it!
Leading a team is difficult work, but rising to the CEO position takes the difficulties, victories, and lessons of leadership to a whole new level.
You are a company’s face, and everyone — customers, partners, workers, and the general public — looks to you for direction and clarity. As a leader, having the appropriate focus will help you to change the way your team works, allowing you to generate better customer solutions faster in the end.
A CEO pays attention and takes notes.
All corporate stakeholders will report to you. While you’ll most certainly have frequent status calls with the rest of your executive team, you should take advantage of this period of transition to listen.
Inquire about your team’s departmental objectives and issues, and be prepared to receive favorable or negative comments. You should also discover as much as you can about their teams, including how they collaborate cross-functionally, what motivates them to succeed, and what challenges they face.
Skip-level meetings, in which you meet with workers without their immediate manager present, may be very beneficial in developing a 360-degree vision of the company.
You’ll quickly learn that the “top” view is a birds-eye view.
Having direct dialogues with leaders inside your company will help you unite all departments. Show them you can hustle. It will also create the framework for uncomfortable conversations down the road.
Engaging in a challenging conversation with someone with whom you’ve built a connection is far more fruitful and meaningful than engaging with a boss with whom you’ve only had a quarterly business review (QBR). Don’t hesitate to say no if you think it’s right. A smart CEO controls meetings with firmness and politeness.
Decide on a shared aim as CEO.
Every CEO has a mission statement.
How about you, what’s yours? You need a plan to execute successfully, whether it’s client acquisition, new product development, another round of funding, or a public filing. It’ll be critical to make sure your immediate day-to-day priorities line up with this.
Are you working on a fundraising round? Make sure you’re hitting all of your targets and interacting with the proper people both inside and outside the firm. Be sure the story you’re telling investors resonates with them, and that your data back it up. It’s critical to identify the work that needs doing.
Determine how your company compares to others, not only financially, but also in terms of diversity, governance, and other factors. Spend your time and efforts on the areas that will help your company achieve its shared goal. A good manager is not afraid of comparisons.
Increase your investment in aspirational culture.
With almost half of American workers considering a career move, it’s critical that your company’s culture is on the right track.
Determine your aspirational culture. What do you want employees to say about your firm? Identifying an aspirational culture goes beyond workplace politics and unrestricted paid time off (PTO) — it’s about how a company’s live, breathing organism feels. And then acts.
The day-to-day, tactical execution of the business is distinct from identifying and doubling down on your company’s aspirational culture. Whether you’re a 25-person early-stage startup or a 2500-person publicly listed corporation, the aspirational culture should remain top of mind at all times.
The leader sets the tone for the rest of the firm. Everyone else follows his or her lead.
You should be yourself first, and CEO second.
Last but not least, becoming the best leader and succeeding on all fronts requires sincerity.
Keep your head down and recall the attributes that set you apart as a leader. You have the great opportunity to manage a large staff and share in the triumphs, disappointments, and lessons that your firm will encounter.
There will always be new things to learn.
Don’t forget why you were granted this seat at the table. There will be components of the new day-to-day that will feel strange or unnatural. This is the case especially if you’re a first-time CEO.
Always remember to surround yourself with the right individuals. Those who are willing to collaborate with you. And push you to be the best leader and representation for your organization.
By adopting these steps, you’ll be able to structure your objectives and business efforts around core principles, allowing you to keep the CEO reins steady and move the company ahead. Keep your head above water, but not in the clouds.