CEO Best Practices Part I

by David Olson

Part I

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).

  1. 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.
  2. 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).
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.

Look for the second half of the 10 Practices for CEO’s next issue.

Related Articles