The promises to themselves CEOs are making – and keeping – as the door opens onto 2015 by Bart Jackson
1. Personally Pilot One Risky Venture
Remember why you started in this game? Remember tossing risk management aside and gunning your ship for the second far star to the right – with no real surety of returning unscathed? Pick a project and show the crew that you’ve still got the bold stuff and know how to lead from the trenches. Your blood will race like it used to, and every person in the shop will watch your hands-on leadership as a cheering fan.
Prime CEO example: Howard Stoeckel
Former CEO & current Vice-chair of Wawa, Inc.
2. Match-make Your Board and Staff
Put on a show at, perhaps, every-other board meeting. Gather a group of recent achievers, and have them deliver a brief presentation on what they did/do and how it generates profits. After you introduce each member, just sit quietly and smile. (Champagne toasts to celebrate notable revenue gushers are acceptable.)
Prime CEO example: Mike Griffith, former CEO, Laureate Biopharma; currently Executive VP, Inventive Health
3. Make Fewer Decisions
This year I promise to spread the wealth and invest more of my crew with the power of independent leadership and self-determination. I’ll offer myself as a good sounding board as they work through their options.
Prime CEO example: Joe Rigby,
CEO & Chair, Pepco Holdings, Inc.
4. Hold a Policy Review Court
Bring all those policies and traditional regulations before your judgment. Consider three possible verdicts. Either a policy is:
a) Officially in place, is carried out, and brings benefit. Keep those.
b) Officially in place, could bring benefit but isn’t implemented.
Find out why and bring it into being.
c) Officially in place, but, implemented or not, it presents a profitless hurdle. Get it gone and erased.
Prime CEO example: George Wurtz, CEO, Soundview Paper.
5. Get Some Presentation Coaching
No, not for those formal speeches you make in your best bib and tucker. Instead, concentrate on bettering your regular Daily Encounters with everyone from the C-suite to the rank and file; plus those “casual” chats with investors and clients. Assuredly, dear leader, you can make yourself more effectively understood with a few lessons from a professional. So put your ego aside, let your general day-to-day communications be scrutinized and improved. It’s the best tax-deductible investment you’ll ever make.
Prime CEO example: Jay Jordon, CEO Emeritus, OCLC (coached or not, Jay’s the best there is at this.)
6. Celebrate & Credit the Company Players
Set up your antennae and develop a system that makes you better aware of whose actions are really benefitting the company and clients. Then personally reward those individuals who make it happen with a surprise thank-you phone call or handwritten note they can keep. Mention their name in the company newsletter, your next pubic speech, or board report. Treat them to lunch.
The staff gains direction and boosted morale; you gain an image of omniscience; and clients walk away more impressed with your team. Win – Win.
– Prime CEO example: Jacques Lacombe, Maestro & Music Director of the New Jersey Symphony Orchestra
7. Volunteer Aid to Local Legislators
Not bucks in a bucket, we are talking real services here. Befriend and discuss issues with the local legislators, then send yourself and fellow team members in to help. Since you did that so well within the community, it may be time to add that personal touch on the state and federal level.
Prime CEO example: Herb Ames, CEO, First Choice Bank
8. Mushroom Your Value Proposition
You already study diligently all that value customers attach to your products and to purchasing them from your company. (Don’t you?) But let this be the year you build in, and point out to your clients additional advantages which they may not have considered. Why not create a solution and add value BEFORE the clients recognize the need?
Prime CEO example: Bryan Jenkins – CEO, Flytime Media
Prime Value Proposition Coach: Bill Kraut, Newport Board Group
9. Fill One Social Need
Those leaders who strive, see a market and seize it. Those who succeed, see a need and fill it. This year, determine one need – one way that will make people’s lives a little more endurable, easy, or enjoyable. Then muster your corporate energies and bring that solution into reality. (Perhaps, fill one for profit and one pro bono jointly with a competitor.)
Prime CEO example: Arturo Osorio, Fellow, The Center for Urban Entrepreneurship and Economic Development
10. Schedule Some Sartre Times
Existential philosopher Jean-Paul Sartre taught us all that one’s fullest re-creation comes during the Eden of thoughtful solitude. Allow yourself the time and gumption to walk away from the daily business burdens and invasively omnipresent company of others that will dull your edge – if you don’t watch out. Schedule defined appointments with You alone. Abandon all tech & earbuds. Seek out a favorite fortress of solitude and get reacquainted with the You who is fun, creative, and justifiably admired.
Prime CEO example: John Sarno, President, Employers Association of New Jersey.
Happy New Year!
* Bart Jackson is CEO of Prometheus Publishing, author of several business guides, including The Art of the CEO. He hosts The Art of the CEO radio show on blogtalkradio.com/theartoftheceo. His business quips have earned him the dubious title of the Hieronymus Bosch of Business.