What is a CEO in business?

by Greg Skloot
Leadership Team   |   3 Min Read
new CEO

In business, a CEO is the top leader of an organization, and ultimately responsible for the team’s success or failure. It is typically the #1 most important role in the organization, since the CEO in business is responsible for determining the company’s strategy, and hiring the right people to execute it.

Thinking back to my early days as a CEO, I wish I had understand these things better on the first day. For a new CEO in business, consider these tips for how be effective in your role:

1. Communicate and then communicate again

I wish I had understand that my #1 job was to communicate. As the CEO, you are communicating vision, progress and guidance constantly each day. As you apply more thought to this, you can craft the right messages that inspire and deliver results. Everything you say, internally and externally, is scrutinized by others who are trying to interpret a deeper meaning. A CEO is just a person, and sometimes the things they say actually don’t have a deeper meaning. Keep this in mind as you communicate.

2. Constantly prioritize

I was overwhelmed with the sheer volume of initiatives on my plate each day. I wish I had understand how important it is to constantly evaluate priorities and say no. You can’t take every meeting or do every task… pick out the important ones. Not every cold email requires a response. Not every request can be accepted. One of the best antidotes to a high volume of initiatives is to delegate. You need to become comfortable with letters others take control of certain initiates, even if in the beginning, you are more qualified to do them.

3. Hold the leadership team accountable

As CEO, you are the direct manager for the executive team, one of the most challenging teams to manage. You need to ensure they are aligned on your objectives, transparent on what progress is being made and held accountable for results. I started using my tool Weekly Update for our team to do this effectively.

Shorter meetings. Real accountability.
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4. Avoid burnout

I worked myself way too hard as CEO. It is beneficial to diversify your time and have some outside interests aside from your business. I never would have believed that at the time, but for the CEOs that get it, they often are more balanced and are able to step away to make clearer decisions.

5. Be realistic

In many ways as an early CEO, I created unnecessary stress by constantly setting insane stretch goals that drove everyone crazy. To be sure, I’m not suggesting that you set the bar too low, but if you set it unrealistically high, the team will just be consistently disappointed when they don’t achieve. Goals need to be aligned with resources: if we are going to sell 30% more this quarter, did our sales staff increase or improve by 30%? Is there a new product we are going to sell?

6. Understand the financials

As a CEO in business, it’s critical that you have a deep understanding of the economics of your company. How much cash do you have left? How much does it cost to acquire a customer? What are the implications of missing your quarterly revenue goal? Since many early CEOs may not come from a finance background, it’s important to quickly ramp up on finance skills and be able to effectively read the income statement and balance sheet, while also personally maintaining a financial model, along with your CFO.

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