Leadership is practiced not so much in words as in attitude and in actions – Harold Geneen.
The journey of a CEO is not an easy one which is why people who have succeeded in business end up failing when they take up the role. The unique responsibilities that the position presents, challenges and stresses of the job can test even the most experienced CEOs.
And whether you are a veteran CEO or have just taken up the new role, there are always ways to get out of that rut and improve performance.
Sometimes you may constantly feel like you are under the microscope as very action and decision you make ends up affecting the lives of those you lead either directly or indirectly.
While you may feel overwhelmed, I have learned that to understand how to balance performance across all departments requires you to have broad experience, a big vision with just the knowledge and willingness to perform the actual responsibilities of the job.
That said; let’s look at what it means to lead from the top and what your key responsibilities are;
1. You own the vision
As CEO you are responsible for the organizations’ strategic direction. And while other people can help create it, only you can ensure that it indelibly engraved in the minds of every employee, customer as well as shareholders.
After all, it’s really difficult to make any progress when you don’t even know where you are going. And keeping that in mind, everything you do therefore, should support the vision of the organization.
The mistake that most CEOs make is allowing that slogan to be just a message on a piece of paper rather than a light to guide them.
For instance, just to ensure that the vision does not become blurry, you can hold regular internal trainings with your staff to remind them of what they are working towards.
2. It’s your role to provide the resources
Think about it this way – your employee’s need resources if they are to perform and thrive.
No one can deliver if they don’t have the right tools and an enabling environment.
For instance, without enough budget and sales people will never be able to do their job and bring in the capital required to keep things moving. By giving them the resources they need, you are empowering them to give you their best.
And on that note, some employers hiring sales staff will make the mistake of paying just a little salary in the hope that these employees will be motivated to work hard by the commissions.
As CEO you need to realize that competitive salaries are one of the motivating factors and one of the resources that you should provide because believe it or not, your top talent is constantly being poached and they are using your resources and time to look for other jobs.
3. It’s your role to determine the office culture
As a CEO, you lead by example. By your actions, the team will follow.
Culture is very important and CEOs who take it seriously are more likely to have engaged employees who give their best.
One way you can do it is by ensuring that a set of clear values is applied consistently across every department.
For example, simple things like coming to work on time, meeting deadlines to even dressing are all enforced by you and if you are used to cutting corners yourself, they will also do the same. If you are rude to them, expect them to treat your clients the same.
You are like the parent of that organization and just like parents creates values that their kids should follow so should you treat your employees.
4. You are the key decision maker
Sometimes, you will be forced to make decisions that may even leave you questioning your leadership skills but that something that you have to go through.
At the end of the day, your team looks up to you to make these decisions on their behalf that will benefit rather than break the company.
If for example the company is not doing well, you are expected to step up and make things better, whether you have the capacity or not.
5. Deliver performance
We both know that the CEO is held accountable for the performance of the organization even though your role is to just oversee.
However, you must take an active role of driving that performance by setting the standards and ensuring that everybody is held accountable for their performance.
This means helping each department set the right metrics and goals and then consistently measuring them. Instilling a culture of high performance is crucial to delivering it.
Being a CEO is about sound leadership and understanding the business goals and most importantly those you lead. It is in seeing the bigger picture and having the charisma and grace to admit to your mistakes, be smart enough to profit from them, and be strong enough to correct them. To understand more about how your leadership affects the organization as a whole and how to align your employees to your goals and visions, learn more here about how to develop & implement a performance management system that works.