Today I want to talk about tuning into your CEO brain.
Whether you are actually a CEO or not is beside the point. This one is all about getting into the mindset of someone who is operating at the highest level in business.
I know from experience that when you are operating as a CEO – your mindset is totally different – and it needs to be! You no longer have the luxury of diving into all the detail, or as one of my clients describes it – dropping back into the whirlwind.
One of the biggest challenges for new CEOs and senior leaders is to actually step out and away from the familiar and into new territory.
As one of my clients, a newly appointed CEO said to me this morning, I need to
- Keep thinking BIG PICTURE
- Keep my head in the right things
When I asked him what the biggest challenge was to doing this, he said to me: "If I was left to my own devices I would be doing everything based on what I know how to do – which is in the business, in the job, in the whirlwind."
Firstly, if this feels like where you are – as a recently promoted leader, or even an experienced leader who has taken on the next role up – don't worry! This is so common and part of the transition!
So here is my advice – even if you aren't an experienced leader or CEO –
think like an experienced leader or CEO thinks. When faced with a decision, ask yourself What would a CEO do?
Here are my top tips:
- Have a super clear vision for your business. Even if you aren't the ultimate boss – think of your team as a business in it's own right - so what is the vision?
- Get your team onboard with where you are taking them. How well do they understand your vision? Do they know what role they play in that vision?
- Define success, and Break it down into a blueprint that they can follow. It's one thing to say that your focus is "happy clients" - great! But what does it mean to have happy clients? What is the definition of success? What are the steps that need to be taken to make this a reality?
- Be ruthless about who you surround yourself with. Do you have the right people in the team or your business? Are you carrying the wrong people? Do you have the right people in the wrong jobs? These are the questions that senior leaders and CEOs are always considering. They know the cost and the impact of having the wrong people, and the massive upside in having the right people in the right roles.
- Finally, always tap into the collective wisdom around you. Experienced leaders don't try and nut problems out by themselves. They know who their talented people are, and ask for their views or ideas on how to solve a problem. Chances are the problem you have been racking your brain about, has an obvious solution in someone else's brain!
So they are my tips for starting to think like a really experienced leader!
Every week I sit down with one of my CEO clients and we go through this process. I get him to re-state his vision, re-state the top 5 things he is focused on strategically, we check in that he is taking his team on the journey, that everyone understands their roles and that he has the right people doing the right things.
The impact on his working week has been profound, as now, when he falls into the whirlwind, or labours over a problem, or wonders what decision he needs to make, he has the tools and filters to help him.
So next time you are faced with a decision, ask yourself "What would a CEO do?"