When most of us start a company, it’s because we have a big idea or core competency and want to build a business around it. At first, as the founder, you wear all the hats. From sales to operations to execution of the actual work, all the jobs fall on your shoulders. But, as the company grows and you hire a team, a lot of those day-to-day items come off your plate, and it’s time to give yourself a new role: CEO of your growing enterprise.
When you are used to having your hands in all the elements of your business, transitioning to a CEO role can be difficult. If other team members take care of your customers, execute the work and keep the operation running, what does the CEO do?
A few years ago, I heard Lawrence King, CEO of King Strategic Development, speak at a conference about the six essential roles of the CEO: strategist, ambassador, coach, inventor, investor and student. His description of how a true CEO should be spending their time has helped guide my day-to-day activities and shape my calendar. It has also helped alert me to those times when I am performing duties within my business that should not be handled by the CEO, and could instead be delegated to other team members.
As you consider these six roles, think about what each looks like in your company. How can you perform them, and what would that change about the way you are spending your time? When I began to make this shift, I identified the essential tasks in my business associated with each role:
• Set the future direction for the agency.
• Determine how to best serve clients.
• Ensure that we remain healthy and growing as a business.
• Spend time with our most important clients.
• Build relationships with those who could refer business to the agency.
• Continuously develop trust and credibility.
• Consistently develop our team.
• Educate the team on the direction and current standing of the agency.
• Push and equip the team for constant improvement and excellence.
• Work to continuously improve our services and delivery to clients.
• Look for ways to do our jobs better and more efficiently.
• Create a culture of creativity and innovation.
• Protect the financial stability of the agency.
• Spend time understanding and planning the finances.
• Weigh all decisions through the lens of profitability and growth.
• Continuously develop myself as a leader.
• Establish expectations for professional development at all levels of the agency.
• Stay informed about our industry and the changes and new technologies coming.
Then, I used these tasks to set strategic priorities for how I was spending my time. What activities support my success in each of these roles? I identified things I was doing–—or wasn’t doing but should be—that would support the broad objectives of each role.
I met with my assistant and shared my priorities with her. The tasks I had identified should be given priority on my calendar – these are the things that are most important to how effectively I run the company. This allowed her to assign weight to demands for my time as they came in; she was able to grant the requests that were in service of one of my six roles as CEO and the strategic priorities associated with them. And, it became a lot easier to identify—and turn down—the requests that didn’t serve my objectives. Here are the tasks we started with:
• Step away from the company twice a year for strategic planning.
• Schedule one day a week with no meetings to work on strategic priorities.
• Schedule weekly one-on-ones with all managers.
• Attend networking meetings and coffee dates.
• Have regular coffee dates with clients (relationship building, not sales).
• Travel to all offices to meet with clients in other states.
• Book high-value speaking engagements.
• Create an in-house mentorship program.
• Create a leadership development program for high performers.
• Hold coaching meetings (feedback, not operations) with all managers monthly.
• Host a twice-yearly “state of the company” address to the team.
• Have weekly all-team meetings.
• Give the team one unscheduled hour a week for innovation.
• Conduct team brainstorms for all clients.
• Take time weekly for personal “white space” and innovation.
• Hold monthly meetings with the agency’s controller.
• Hold weekly meetings with the director(s) of finance/operations.
• Review the balance sheet and P&L monthly.
• Create and consistently review an annual budget for the agency.
• Have one-on-ones with a coach.
• Identify and listen to podcasts on leadership, management and the industry.
• Champion the in-house mentorship program.
• Talk to team members individually about professional growth and goals.
Over the past year, using this system, I’ve been able to increase my effectiveness as a leader, make faster progress on my personal and company goals, and make smarter decisions about how I spend my time and energy. That’s benefited both our staff and our clients—and given me a renewed sense of purpose and direction.
Obviously, it’s still a work in progress. But if you believe, as I do, that the CEO’s most important job is to spend time thinking, deciding, planning and communicating the key company objectives, King’s take on the six essential roles of the CEO is worth studying for your business.
You might find that although your title says CEO, you haven’t yet made the shift away from doing and toward your highest and best use within the company.
read more at http://www.forbes.com/entrepreneurs/ by Young Entrepreneur Council, CommunityVoice