The role of an executive leader has expanded in scope and complexity.
The organizations they lead operate in a business climate that has rarely been more turbulent.
They manage intricate networks of overlapping jurisdictions and relationships.
Their responsibilities aren’t limited to what happens inside the company, they must consider how their actions will impact the environment, sustainability issues and the human beings.
The leaders I talk to feel the weight of the world on their shoulders.
Every chief executive confronts a series of challenges that can be ranked in the following order:
- First priority, is to survive in the job, as a US based study showed that less than half of CEOs lasted two years in the job.
- The second priority is the major challenge of building the stakeholder or shareholder value. new projects, Boards, ‘normal’ business, and her stakeholders are tripping her up
- A third priority is leaving a proud legacy – a company or organization that plays a leadership role with stakeholders, its communities, and in the world and contributes to a sustainable future.
These challenges can overwhelm any leader but, the key to survival is to be self-disciplined, even selfish, in their approach to work.
Leaders must relentlessly protect their time, focus on their own agenda and avoid reacting to extraneous demands. They must learn to trust and follow their instincts, even when it means replacing team members who aren’t contributors.
Six Dilemmas – And Six Strategies for Success
1 Work The 75% Rule;
- As a leader, we should not be schedule more than 75% of the available time in our calendars
- The quality of your decisions will not increase beyond knowing 75% of the available information.
- Once you hit that threshold for discomfort and your physical ability, your body has only used approx. 75% of your energy
2 Set the Tone and Business Rhythm
It is critical for leader of the organization is the one beating the drum, not marching to the drumbeat.
Role-model a positive tone by, having energy, being clear about their goals and being authentic. Be aware of the signals you’re sending to your organization, if you demonstrate a lack of focus or ethos … your people will mirror your example.
3 Build Your Team Fast
Most leaders say that talent and human capital is their No. 1 priority, but it’s also one of the most difficult.
You must invest time on hiring and building your team of people you can trust and be equally diligent about getting rid of those who are not performing.
4 Align the Organization Around Simple Strategic Themes
A best practice for communicating your strategic goals is to translate the relevant business priorities and simplify them into a few easily understood themes.
Arm yourself with these simple themes and hammer them home at every opportunity. Role-model with your words and deeds and a communications strategy that makes them second nature to the entire team.
5 Get All Stakeholders Working for You
Simplifying and clarifying your strategy has another benefit: it helps them manage the multiple stakeholders. Use your themes to win over stakeholders and make them part of the solution, not the problem
Some CEOs spend as much as 20 per cent of the time on governance alone. By involve board members in your strategic priorities, they will develop a sense of ownership, helping them to understand the numbers, embrace the metrics and help advance your agenda. CEOs struggle to establish a strong relationship with the board, especially with the chairman because of the natural tension inherent in the two roles.
6 Use Trusted Advisers and Mentors
I have worked with many of your peers in leadership. Most are ambitious, highly-driven, and successful leader who wants to transform their community and achieve big things. But, big projects, Boards, ‘normal’ business, and her stakeholders are tripping her up.
The common themes for each of them is these:
- They do not have a trusted confident.
- They are not sure if they are getting honest operational feedback
- They to test that they are making the best decisions
To a person each leader felt better just talking over a coffee.
Not everyone needed a paid coach, but each did need a trusted ear.