'Fat Cat' Alert: New Survival Skills for CEOs
It can happen. It has happened. By disregarding the daily details of leadership, CEOs lose sight of the mission and face the unthinkable—termination. Somehow along the way, the executive's leadership ability slips into a black hole seemingly to have never existed, and in some cases it didn't.
Now-former Groupon CEO Andrew Mason is a prime example of someone who failed to recognize the intricacies of the position and ultimately failed to execute the job effectively. Far too often, C-levels lose sight of the task and get too comfortable, completely disregarding the possibility of getting the boot.
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Not all titleholders encompass the position's traits, but here are 10 things every CEO should take into consideration to avoid being the company's next expiration:
Strategically Select Your Surroundings
Good CEOs surround themselves with great people, either on their board, their top lieutenants or both. However, what prohibits good CEOs from being great is that they always defer to these people rather than trust their own instincts at times. It's easy to become a figure head and not even know it. Realize that Wall Street and investors aren't the same as clients and employees. Everyone in business has an agenda; making money, keeping their job, getting promoted, etc. As CEO, it's easy to forget that you actually are doing one of two things: Helping them do what their agenda is or blocking them from it. To succeed, surround yourself with people you trust and who are smarter than you.
Walk the Walk, Talk the Talk
CEO: You are the CHIEF. You need to act like one. This isn't about your personality or being goofy, which actually can be positives to a leader; rather it's about communication and being decisive. Mason fell short for a variety of reasons, but at the end of the day the company performed well. From the interviews and the "talk," Mason didn't make decisions quickly and he couldn't move past his one idea, "Groupon."
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Expect to Evolve
Companies evolve and so must CEOs. Successful leaders embrace change and are willing to adjust once the needs of partners, suppliers, employees and customers do. If CEOs continue to hide in fear of the unknown that's brought on by change, their time with the company is limited.
Plan for the Unplanned
Assign a specific amount of time in each day as a free block should anything be brought to your attention. Whether it's as miniscule as a conversation or as significant as an unexpected client meeting, the opportunity for business advancement can be in any form of communication.
A great CEO needs to break down his time in to three buckets: Clients, Board of Directors and Employees. Communication with all three is crucial in order to grow the company, instill confidence and keep your job.
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Drive the Day, Don't Be Driven Over
Manage your days by first fulfilling the tasks that only a CEO can complete. If those are the tasks that move the company forward, they're your first priority. If you leave the office before those are complete, you're holding the company back from even the slightest of advancement.
Don't Remove Yourself, Be Accessible
Set aside time regularly to meet with staff in order to discuss what motivates them. For some it's face time, for others it's outward recognition. In order to best retain employees, it's essential to know what keeps them happy and motivated. Make sure to stay in touch with everyone, and at all levels. Show them that you're paying attention.
You're not being productive, but rather destructive. Multitasking simply prevents your brain from performing at max capacity. Consider focusing on one thing and getting it done right in a shorter timeframe, opposed to wrapping your mind around five things, and in the end failing to solve any problem. If you're in a meeting discussing an issue, don't pick up the incoming phone call that's probably regarding another one.
Reorganize Less, Strategize More
When you reorganize the company often and shift upper management into different positions, you only cause irritation without a solution. Take that time to strategize an effective plan that won't be disruptive but provide cohesion and maximize business.
Denial is death for any company. Accept your mistakes, adjust them and move forward. Far too often CEOs either fail to recognize or accept that they've made a significant mistake.
Tom Gimbel is the Founder and CEO of LaSalle Network, a $35 million staffing and recruiting firm based in Chicago. Founded in 1998, LaSalle has served thousands of clients and candidates, placing job seekers in temporary, temporary-to-permanent and permanent positions.