Maximizing CEO Performance: Saying No and the 85% Rule

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We continue to receive enthusiastic feedback from our recent Catapult Groups Webinar on “7 Methods for Maximum Performance,” with my colleague Doug Beckley, a Catapult Groups Leader. As in my previous blog, I’m sharing highlights from the presentation—because finding ways to increase your performance as CEO is critically important for the success of your business.

One quality of successful leaders is the ability to say “No” when they have to. Leaders realize you can’t be all things to all people and be effective at the same time. You just won’t get everything done.

Prioritize Tasks Based on Level of Urgency

As Doug noted in the webinar, it’s all a matter of becoming conscious about what you choose to permit to consume your time and energy. So much of the time we’re on auto-pilot, doing whatever pops up next on our computer screen or reacting to the latest crisis du jour in the workplace. But this mode of operation never addresses the crucial, long-range decisions that determine whether or not your business succeeds.

Instead, look closely at those activities and decisions that are truly important and those which are “B” and “C” priorities. Ask yourself: Does this particular activity move me closer to my personal and professional goals? If the answer is no, then we must say no.

The Pitfalls of Perfectionism

There’s another way of saying “no” that’s of a more personal nature. Many CEOs are good at what they do because they insist on perfection—everything must be done exactly right, down to the letter. But at a certain point, perfectionism becomes self-defeating. Striving to get a project or a message absolutely 100% right takes up too much precious time and effort when, in fact, something that’s 85% complete is good enough.

Please note that we’re not talking about skimping on any aspect of performance to meet the high standards you’ve set for delivering quality to your clients. But particularly when it comes to internal operations—when an initiative reaches a point where repeated fine-tuning ends up making little discernible difference—that’s the time to say “no” (or “no more”) and move on.

All too often we work past this point of optimization and end up spinning our wheels. Never get mired in details that prevent execution.

If you missed the Webinar or would like to hear Doug’s presentation again, I invite you to click here and learn more about how to maximize your performance as a business leader.

Brad Mishlove