This year marks my 15th year of coaching CEO’s and company leaders on business strategy, corporate culture and leadership. I have had the privilege of working with more than 70 small to mid-market organizations in over 40 industries throughout the U.S. Like most executives, our business practices evolve over time, and experiences turn into knowledge.
As a coach, my goal is always to see my client succeed. I want to high-five them when they hit a homerun or score a touchdown. I want them to have experiences that will lead them to achieve their goals: increased sales, better performance, healthy growth, stronger culture and ultimately a better organization.
In reflecting on my 15 years as a professional resource in strategy, culture and leadership, I have documented 10 Practices a CEO should follow and implement to help survive the challenges of growing a healthy, sustainable organization (listed in no particular order).
- Have a good partner. It is extremely difficult for a CEO to sustain impacting change on an organization without a good no. 2 by their side. I have witnessed CEO’s flying “leadership solo” and those with a good no. 2, and a complimenting partner most often increases effectiveness and assures victory. Lock up a good partner who thrives on being the best no. 2 they can be and is committed to both you and the organization’s success.
- Become aware. “Awareness” is one of the most important words in the English language. Every monumental change, personally and corporately, stems from a moment of awareness. We should set our course on a constant journey of discovery. There are some amazing leadership development assessments to help you accomplish this goal. I personally use Caliper with my clients (50+ years in business, more than 28,000 companies, and over 2 million individual professionals and executives).
- Hire well. Faulty hires have a profound negative financial and directional impact on an organization. Be methodical, slow and purposeful when hiring your leadership team. The same due diligence applied to a business acquisition should be considered with an executive leader acquisition.
- Find leaders. Leaders are not trained, they are cultivated. Leadership is a deep intrinsic trait that can only be partially taught, but mostly mined. Too much time and money is expended trying to make leaders out of non-leaders. Make sure you invest in the right people.
- Focused execution. Most strategic initiatives fail not because they were not good ideas, but because they were not executed properly. From a study conducted by The Economist Intelligence Unit, they found that 75% of U.S. organizations were batting less than 500 on successfully implementing business transformation initiatives. Organizations reorganize too quickly when an initiative falls short instead of regrouping, adjusting their approach and re-executing well.