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Becoming a new CEO? Congrats! Now do this.

As a new top executive, your deep management experience undoubtedly prepped you for your role. Or did it?

It has been said by top executives the world over and in every industry that nothing prepares you for the role of CEO. Here are a few principles (we wouldn’t dare reduce this advice to a mere set of “tips”) that can guide you through the new, and into an understandable groove for personal and corporate evolution.

Look at the big picture, not the details

You may have worked at the same company for decades. You understand the minutiae incredibly well — at least for your particular discipline. But as soon as you sit in the CEO’s chair, all the relationships that you previously held fundamentally change. What people seek from you changes overnight, and the hands-on expertise you prided in suddenly needs to take a back seat to some as-yet acquired skills. Your new lot in life? Inspiration, direction-pointing, and top-tier team-building, all while bearing responsibility for the success or failure of the organization at large. Relying on strategic skills alone will not pass muster. In fact, it will be your business-unit team leadership setting strategy to align with your inspiration. We’re not splitting hairs here. As we’ll discuss in a bit, you are only human, you only have so much time, and everyone wants “just a few minutes” with you, now.

Accept that leadership doesn’t come with the job

When you look back over history at great leaders, you don’t see solo acts. Leaders get the headlines, but one of the common threads is how they all seek to enlarge the power base of their 2nd-level leaders. But they must first believe in your direction. How do you do that?

Most of your organization will want you to be successful—either out of respect, or their desire to be part of a successful organization—but your new title doesn’t immediately grant you the moral right to lead. You must earn and in some cases re-earn the respect and trust of every strata of stakeholders surrounding you, from directors to “lifers” to new employees.

Great brand strategy is the process of understanding where a brand has been, its current market position, and its long term goals. From it, we can achieve future goals based on a deep understanding of how its products or services solve problems for customers and what moves those customers to make decisions. Contact Ben Greenberg today to ensure that your vision and brand strategy is aligned.

The Three A’s: Your New Balanced Diet

Accessibility, approachability, and authenticity are all essential in a top executive’s role, but for first-timers, it’s usually quite difficult to get them to align.

They translate to good time management, maintaining a magnanimous character, and consistency of message and action. Break this list of three down, and you’ll see how challenging it is to personally execute against.

Accessibility — New execs are often genuinely surprised at how quickly their calendars fill with meetings with analysts, board members, investors, business unit leaders, internal and external marketers, and more. While it’s critical that you be present and communicative for topics important to your company and its development, remember that you’re only human. You need to prioritize those exchanges that are most valuable, be timely, communicative, and respectful to those that you need to delay or say no to, and make your health a top priority. 

Approachability — Because your calendar will be under so much pressure, you’ll be tempted to try to manage from behind closed office doors. Avoid this. Presenting an open and always listening demeanor is critical to getting others to see and adopt your point of view. Make consistent time for speaking to business units and your company at large. And when you have to say “no, not today,” be open and honest about why, and have a means ready for a timely rescheduling or for your appointed representatives to be able to meet in your absence. 

Authenticity — Authenticity has been spoken of so much that its meaning is beginning to lose its bite. For our purposes, it's simple:  mean what you say and do what you mean. As CEO you’re the voice and face of the company. You’re the storyteller and the chief evangelist for How Things Should Be. This demands that you’re always “on brand” and well-rehearsed with your talk tracks, but also… yourself. You earned this job by being you. Find a way to bring your flavor to the needs of the job. Ask those who are closest to you to describe “the best you,” so you can remember to check yourself against your written responses, your speeches, and even your policy decisions. 

Always attempt to leave your mark on the position, rather than have the position reshape you.

Build your company by building its culture

The health of your organization is reflected in its culture. Its culture is driven by the workflows that have been engineered and put into practice over time.

Although the mechanics of designing workflows will be left to other managers, your guidance to greater objectives will set the destination for those managers. Since workflows and processes are what literally pair people together for stated outcomes, the context or environment for those pairings can and should be set by you.

Don’t “build for an exit,” as many business developers like to say, but build for success. Creating a thriving and inclusive culture on the way to a successful company is a greater legacy to strive for.

A new CEO is one of many earmarks of a “company in transition.” Your ascendancy as new leader doesn’t mean the transition is over, it means you — and everyone surrounding you — is in the midst of it, too.

Here’s a resource that may help ground you:

BS LLC offers branding, strategy, and design solutions because we believe businesses operate at their highest growth potential when guided by a holistic set of values and goals. 

If you would like to learn more about how BS LLC can help you grow from the inside out, please send us a message or give us a call (513-427-5526).  Additionally, you can take an in-depth look at our services and resources.