Most CEOs are doers. They’ve built their businesses from the ground up and revel in the satisfaction their successes bring. But they can’t do everything themselves, and that’s OK. So, what should these doers actually do? When do CEOs delegate, and when do they take the lead?
As a fellow CEO, I’ve contemplated this very question. I’ve found that involving myself in day-to-day tasks and issues can quickly consume my time and infringe on long-term goals.
But CEOs need some level of involvement in every aspect of their business to make sure the company is on track to reach its long-term goals. The question isn’t deciding which areas to pay attention to but how you should interact with each aspect of the company.
Resist the Urge to Do
The balance between involvement and “doing” can be difficult to achieve because CEOs didn’t reach executive status by sitting back and delegating tasks to others. They got their hands dirty and took care of the nitty-gritty details.
But once you’ve established processes and hired a dedicated staff, dissociating yourself from every decision can be difficult — and jumping into daily disputes can put your company at serious risk.
For example, Chuck is the CEO of an advertising agency who used to head up the digital department. When his team is slammed and trying to meet a deadline, his first inclination is to dive in and help. However, spending a week writing code and testing a website isn’t the best use of his time because the areas that require his attention won’t get covered.
As a company grows, it’s important that employees do their specific jobs so every aspect is taken care of. If Chuck loses sight of what his job entails, no one is going to call him out. And when Chuck finally realizes he’s neglecting his own responsibilities, the company could already be in trouble.
Focusing on big-picture items requires a delicate balance between working in the business and working on the business. Here are a few areas CEOs should include in their daily to-do lists to align day-to-day and long-term goals.
- Planning: CEOs should continuously plan and set goals. They need to make conscious decisions about the direction their company will take, then determine the appropriate actions that will get the company to that destination.
- Mentoring: As an expert doer, helping others put ideas into action is part of the job. This might mean sitting next to a sales manager as he conducts a sales call and critiquing the pitch afterward. Or it might mean serving as a sounding board for a manager who needs to have a difficult conversation with a team member. The main thing to remember is to advise rather than taking over.
- Leveraging or lobbying: CEOs have vast networks and should use them to open new doors for the company. This could mean establishing themselves as thought leaders within their fields and attracting other key influencers. It could also center on more traditional lobbying as the CEO works to influence governmental polices that affect the business. Regardless of the situation, act with the goal of influencing attitudes, perceptions, and policies.
- Number crunching: CEOs should keep their fingers on the financial pulse of the company. This means staying aware of spending and sales trends or raising capital and working with investors. It’s important for the CEO to understand these details so financial glitches don’t escalate.
- Creating a culture: CEOs have tremendous influence over their company’s culture. Reacting peacefully to news, participating in company events, taking time to connect personally with teams, and creating unique traditions are all great ways to establish a positive company culture.
When making the transition from sole employee to CEO, it’s tempting to revert to your old “doer” ways. But to move the needle forward, you have to take charge by leading your team and fight the impulse to throw yourself into every situation.
By outlining daily activities and aligning those with monthly, quarterly, or annual goals, you can focus on big-picture issues and complete the most important tasks without letting key aspects of the business completely out of your sight.
This post was written by Drew McLellan and was published on Creator.