CEO Advice: Strategies to Stay Ahead of Your Team, Part 2

CEO Advice: Strategies to Stay Ahead of Your Team, Part 2

In my last blog I wrote about the joys and pains of being a CEO and five lessons I have learned along the way that allow me to stay ahead of my team and manage like a CEO. Today, I want to add to that list and give you four more very important steps that -- if you learn and heed -- will give you the leverage you need as a leader to influence, be heard and lead with success!

Remember: As a CEO there is no one like you in your company. You cannot discuss difficult topics with anyone else on your team because you are CEO and your word alone can trump all other opinions. Leading from the top is a lonely job. So, follow these four additional steps and watch how your team follows.

1. Stay humble.

Acknowledge, often! Without your employees, your dreams and plans wouldn’t amount to much. Take every available opportunity to acknowledge the contribution of those around you and give them credit, especially in public. Feedback is rare in most companies, and positive feedback is rarest of all.

“Get” that it’s all your responsibility. When things don’t go the way you want, take responsibility — regardless whether it’s your fault. The mindset of responsibility will put you in a much more powerful place than the mindset of blame. Regularly review circumstances asking, ”What could I do differently (or stop doing) to make a positive difference?” Identify the action and then take it. You’ll be surprised how much more power you have over external forces when operating from responsibility rather than blame.

2. Learn well.

Study excellent CEOs. Call a CEO you admire and invite them to lunch. Exchange tips and adopt tactics that they have found useful. Read books such as "First, Break All the Rules," which are broad-based studies of habits of top-performers. Adopt at least one new habit a month.

Create systems for gathering feedback. Interview customers, competitors, analysts and others in your industry to know how your company and products are perceived. Make sure you gather feedback that will question your beliefs about the world as much as confirms them. For example, if you think you’re No. 1 in your market, don’t just ask customers why they like your products. Ask what other products they use, and how your products fall short.

3. Spend time learning about the fundamentals of a CEO’s job:

  • Setting strategy: The strategy and vision for the company determine where everyone will focus their efforts. Find a vision and strategy and use it to align your entire company.
  • Creating the corporate culture: Your culture will determine what people do and don’t try, who will stay, who will leave, and how business will get done. Culture starts with you. Decide how you want people to act and start modeling the behavior publicly.
  • Capital allocation: Every dollar you raise and spend should produce more than $1 of return for the company, or it’s a waste of money. Learn how to make these judgments.
  • Hiring and Firing: The job of executives is primarily team- and culture-building. Hiring and firing are must-have skills. Read, take classes, and review past hiring successes and mistakes. Do whatever you can to hone your abilities.
4. Raise the Bar.

Hold yourself to higher standards next year than you did this year. Challenge yourself to learn to get more done with fewer hours and fewer resources while creating a more balanced life for yourself.

Frank Albi, former solution provider CEO, and 4-Profit team member, has a proven track record of successfully building growth-oriented advanced technology services organizations. He heads up M&A planning, training and CEO/Executive team coaching on business strategy/realignment and profitability. For more information please visit
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