Some CEOs are a such liability that you wouldn’t take them on a sales call or march them in front of Wall Street any more than required. Sure they have the title, but your company could swap them out like a loaf of bread. Overconfident for no apparent reason, thin-skinned, and spending more time protecting their prime situation than leading. You know the type. But let’s move to the Growth CEO who is pushing boundaries and is a curious learner. Our forward-leaning CEO transcends minor issues, inspires those around them, and gets invited to the post workday beer.
A Growth CEO shapes the business of change
Why does anyone think they are isolated from change? Leaders are either guiding change or making their company irrelevant because of change. We don’t hire CEOs to sit on top of our stack of gold coins, we hire them to influence a changing landscape to our unfair advantage. When CEOs fight change, they end up looking sluggish at best and inattentive at worst. CEOs shouldn't divert from normal business operations. They must get into the flow of change and innovate for growth. Maybe CEOs should see themselves as CVOs. (Chief Value Officer) Because if a board doesn’t see increasing value, it may be time for the CEO to step aside and give someone else a chance at growth.
A Growth CEO drives a vision
A former boss of mine used to say that a leader had to be able to run from the bow of the ship to the engine room and then back again. Leaders want to check on the health of operations where they are leading everyone. Being visionary is not an all or nothing proposition, thinking ahead is a key part of the job and it’s for more than 12 months. To me, 12 months is an operating plan, not a vision. The jewel of this is the ability to articulate the vision in such a way that all employees can tie their daily activities to a unified purpose.
A Growth CEO simplifies their messages
CEOs have a number of audiences they have to address from prospects to board members to the press. It’s easy to get a little too cute about the audience and lose the core messages. We have to do the foundational work around our positioning, our key personas, and their pains/gains. This can be done at the corporate, divisional, and solution level. We have to keep repeating it even after we have tired of the words. It’s a distracted world out there folks. The more we say something that is simple to understand, the easier it is for our audiences to remember why they should be grateful we exist.
A Growth CEO expects profits
When the aforementioned are done well, the rest of the organization follows the CEO’s growth behavior. This ignites a foundation for growth and because everyone has become more efficient and effective, profits follow.
A Growth CEO shares the scoreboard
Why not share where we are against goals in real time? A Growth CEO knows there are no secrets in their organization. Information either flows through real time, objective-based KPI management or through the grapevine. The former allows insight to be created that improves all decisions. The latter is often incomplete, too late for action, and distracting.
We don't always get to work for a Growth CEO, but when we do, let's focus on the good things they do and not dwell on their faults.