9 top priorities for firsttime ceos
Last Updated : GMT 06:49:16
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Last Updated : GMT 06:49:16
Arab Today, arab today

9 top priorities for first-time cEOs

Arab Today, arab today

Arab Today, arab today 9 top priorities for first-time cEOs

9 top priorities for first-time cEOs
Tehran - FNA

As CEO what do you do and not do? Often companies come unglued at the top when first-time CEOs exercise their right to freely invade, well, anything and everything.
This might work for awhile, but you will never build a strong company this way. The tendency to meddle comes from a fundamental misunderstanding of the CEO job. It is one of several first-time sins. Here's how to avoid them:
Talk about people.
The only way to scale is through higher quality people. Most early stage companies don't talk about people nearly enough. As CEO, talk about people all the time. In one-on-ones with your leadership team, make sure you ask about the quality and performance of their direct reports. It is the number one agenda item in each of these meetings.
Establish a people barometer.
Paul English, cofounder of Kayak, runs an on-going, mental enthusiasm test: When he walks down a corridor of cubes, he asks himself who he is excited to see. Those that he is not excited to see need to improve or move out. Develop your awareness of people in the same way.
Finally, talk about people at your weekly leadership team meetings. What would it mean to the company if you could get a star engineer or sales person to join you? This reminds your team that you are thinking about recruiting and people incessantly.
Don't forget that every new hire matters.
Up to a certain size, say 200 employees, insist on a short meeting with any finalist candidate for a new job — any job — in the company. Your role is not to test their functional capacity to do the job; it is to test for cultural fit. Will they add or subtract from the energy? You want the best people you can afford in all roles.
Putting a final stamp on new hires has several other benefits: It will make hiring managers exercise more scrutiny over their choices if final candidates have to pass muster with you; it sends a strong message to the new employee that people matter, and that she has access to you, too.
Calendar for unscheduled time.
About 30% of your office time should be unscheduled. Don't squander this time on email. Get out of your office or cube. Walk around purposefully, and be seen in informal ways. One thing I like to do is drop in on a small group of product or engineering colleagues and ask them what they are working on — and why. Just listen. Express enthusiasm. If you have comments, make them, but this is not a strategy session. Thank them for their hard work, and tell them to have lunch on you today at the Mexican place downstairs. If you think they are misguided, talk to their manager, but don't undermine the manager in front of the group.
You might also grab someone for an impromptu one-on-one, or debate a partnership or strategy issue that's been on your mind. Unscheduled time is critical to your creativity and leadership.
Lastly, establish a calendar buddy, someone preferably who is a CEO also, in an unrelated industry. Every month, write him a short email stating your key priorities, give him access to your calendar, and ask him to assess whether you really used your time well. You will be surprised.
Be contrarian.
Jack Dorsey of Twitter and Square likens the CEO job, and leadership generally, to an editorial task: editing for great ideas and people, and editing out the bad. I like this metaphor but would add that the CEO needs to be alert for contrarian opportunities.
When everyone thinks things are great, ask yourself where you could stumble, and talk with the leadership team more about competitive threats. Be overtly contrarian, even paranoid. When things are bad, the CEO is the single most important voice reassuring everyone that there will be better days. Do this in a reasoned way, explain with data why you think circumstances will improve, and discuss what needs to be done.
Remember focal length.
One reason you are CEO is that you are a doer, a person of action. Yet one of the hardest things is to stop fixing every little problem you see. Establish focal length. When you see a problem, first ask yourself: Should I fix this myself, delegate it, or ignore it? It will keep you from meddling, for one; and it will put pressure on your managers to do their jobs better.
Be happy.
If you are temperamental, take it outside. Go for a walk. Employees mirror the mood of the CEO more than they should, but it's a fact. If you slouch and look glum, they think something is wrong with the business. If you are a screamer, well, nothing good comes of that. If you want to complain, do so at home. Don't indulge in office gossip either. You have a different role than any other in the company. Honor it.
Remove distraction.
Manage your board and investors — don't let them interfere unnecessarily. Stay close enough to large expenditures and projects to kill them if it's clear they will not create value. One of the places where CEO interference, if you will, should be tolerated is in removing distraction. It also sends a message that operational excellence, clarity of thought and strategy, is of paramount importance.
Add value.
Figure out what you do best, what no one else can do as well as you — partnerships, sales, product development, fund-raising. Ask your leadership team for their assessment of your strengths. Then assign yourself to focus on those things. With everything else, fill in with the most talented people you can find.

 

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