Influential CEOs make critical strategic decisions and plans for their organizations. This requires self-awareness, resiliency, and a team that supports their efforts. Influential leaders are open to input from other staff members and often visit other departments to learn how they contribute to company goals. This collaboration and engagement help to drive productivity and morale.
Focus on the Long-Term
CEOs must juggle short- and long-term considerations as the world becomes more complex. The best CEOs, for example, Mark Hirschhorn, focus on the long term by establishing and communicating a clear vision for how their companies will prosper over the coming decades. They use this vision to guide their company’s strategy, budgeting, and decision-making processes. They also partner with their board chairs on a forward-looking agenda beyond fiduciary and risk management to cover issues such as leadership, M&A, technology, culture, and talent. These strategies ensure that the board and management are focused on the same strategic priorities. They also encourage the CEO to implement an ongoing stage-gate process for capital allocation that takes a granular view, makes comparisons using quantitative metrics, and prompts leaders to reallocate resources when needed dynamically.
Organize Your Time
When you’re a CEO, many things are demanding your attention at any moment. This is unavoidable, but setting aside time exclusively for the most critical work you need is essential. For example, some CEOs dedicate one day a week to all their product testing and quality assurance activities. This allows them to entirely focus on that type of work without the distracting interruptions and unnecessary context switching that come with answering emails, messages, or phone calls. It’s also a good idea to make sure that you schedule time with your most important external stakeholders regularly. This helps keep the lines of communication open, and it can be very motivating for employees to see that a CEO takes the time to meet with them and listen to their concerns. Also, remember to jot down what you’ve accomplished on your calendar each day so that you can track and manage your progress over time.
Communicate Your Vision
You must communicate your vision to all your team members, so they can ensure their work is aligned with company goals. Top CEOs establish and regularly communicate their vision statement so that it’s ingrained in every employee’s mind. Then they take steps to ensure their employees are laser-focused on the work necessary to achieve the desired outcome. This requires a mix of push and pull strategies, such as implementing standardized operating procedures (SOPs) that provide high-level and granular instructions on completing a given task. It also involves regular meetings with your team members to ensure ongoing alignment and open communication. These conversations should be structured and impromptu, with your team members discussing how a specific project or initiative is helping them get closer to their version of the company vision. This will help them feel more engaged in the work they’re doing, as well as connected to their coworkers’ efforts.
Focus on Performance
In a healthy organization, leadership functions mesh seamlessly with management processes. CEOs often delegate some of their day-to-day responsibilities to lower-level managers. Still, they are constantly synthesizing the results from these efforts and determining whether a company should implement changes or proposals. But with so much at stake, the CEO role can be challenging to navigate. For example, overly optimistic CEOs in a rapidly changing environment can be overcommitted and overwhelmed.
On the other hand, CEOs that are too realistic can take advantage of opportunities to grow and gain a competitive advantage. To avoid these traps, excellent CEOs carefully prioritize and proactively schedule interactions with critical external stakeholders to motivate their teams to deliver on the company’s most significant opportunities and “big bets.” They also ensure that management processes do not foil one another. For example, they refrain from allowing the CFO’s budgeting process to undermine product innovation or talent management by using rigid or clumsy procedures that stifle creativity.