Advice for the New CEO
Making a good first impression is important in any job, but nowhere more so than for the new CEO. Your words and deeds during the first two or three months will set the tone for much of what comes next—and how well you develop relationships with employees, customers, your board of directors, etc. As a practicing CEO myself and one who’s worked closely with many CEO members of Catapult Groups, I can offer some humble advice to those of you new to this crucially important position:
It’s not about you. Of course, your unique talents and hard work are responsible for getting you where you are today. Others have recognized your special leadership qualities and look forward to benefiting from your knowledge and experience. But the business world is riddled with CEOs who think it’s all about them—a treacherous and narcissistic perspective that has no place in responsible leadership. As CEO, you are there to serve others, with the goal of making your organization a profitable, progressive and exciting place to work.
Know the business. If you’re the founder, you’re already ahead of the game when it comes to knowing the nuts and bolts of the business. If you’re new to the company, commit to doing a thorough “leadership due diligence.” Study all the materials you can get your hands on—budget statements, performance reviews, past annual reports, etc. Get a good feel for the organization’s strategic vision and its position in the marketplace. Learn everything you can before making your own pronouncements about where the business should go next.
Get out there and listen. The worst thing you can do is close the door to your office and interact with no one but your executive assistant. Your management team and your employees want to get to know you; they also want to feel it’s OK to share their own insights with you. Plan a “listening tour” where you ask questions and collect opinions and ideas, rather than trotting out your (still formulating) vision of the future.
Meet your most important customers. Your initial research will serve as a useful foundation, but nothing can replace actual human contact with these most important individuals and businesses. Get a first-hand feel for their needs and the challenges they face. Start thinking about new ways your company can serve them.
Understand you can’t do everything. The most effective CEOs understand that, for all the power their office holds, there’s only so much they can do. Remembering this will keep you humble and ready to accept the assistance other talented individuals can offer.
Take care of yourself. In the early months it’s tempting to work around-the-clock, both to get a grip on the business and to demonstrate your dedication. But there’s such a thing as working too hard. A CEO’s job is stressful enough without adding to it by failing to eat properly, get plenty of exercise and take occasional breaks. You’ll offer much greater value to the organization by maintaining a healthy lifestyle and staying alert and open to whatever tomorrow brings.
If you’re ready to ready to grow as a leader and actively inspire the people who work for you, join other CEOs, managers and senior-level executives in a confidential group setting where you’ll be challenged and rewarded like never before in your professional life. Learn more about becoming a Catapult Group member today.