CEO Self Awareness – Part 2

If employees are the blood of the organization, then the CEO is its heart.

This is part 2 in a 2 part series. For part 1 please visit CEO Self Awareness Part 1

A successful CEO is a person who takes risk, is passionate about their job and can inspire others around them. They are not afraid to stick with what they feel is right. It is this instinctual, gut feeling that guides them and the companies they lead in the right direction towards success.

The responsibilities of a CEO are dynamic, complex and differ from one company to the next.  It is estimated that the average company leader has over 70 crucial markers he or she is expected to watch in his or her business every day.  Whether you are a CEO, executive, entrepreneur or aspiring to be any of these, here’s a few of those to keep at the top of your list.

How to reinvent a brand

To achieve growth you have to disrupt yourself, before you’re disrupted by somebody else. Reorganize how the organization is structured, redistribute the assets that are important, change how you innovate, look for new strategic partners, or make huge capital expenditures on new systems and supplies.

To reinvent the brand, you need to do a lot of preliminary consumer work by meeting with your customers. Work with an insights company to know how to bring in a new generation of customers without alienating the current consumers. Let people know why and how your brand operates to inspire people.

It’s also important to learn what to say ‘no’ to in your brand. Define strict things your brand is opposed to and stick to the image you have created. Because if you violate the brand’s values and integrity, you are breaking the trust that the customers expect from you. Only associate yourself with people and ideas which fit in with your brand and culture.

Companies that survived and thrived in the economic downturn were those who took an offensive approach in contrast to the defensive one taken by the ones who suffered. The survivors invested and redeployed appropriately and galvanized on an idea or product. How you manage your company in a time of crisis defines your leadership style and culture, and lays the ground for an image of stability and calm which attracts customers.

Trust of the Customers

A combination of trust and respect needs to be present across all constituencies; across employees, customers, and shareholders. Revenues are important to for-profit companies to keep the business running and shareholders happy, but it needs to be generated the right and ethical way.

Increase customer engagement by providing high-quality products with a responsive customer service, and getting involved in projects which benefit the community. Make quality of the product your number one priority and give back to society with programs that can engage both your employees and your clients. These things build trust between a company and its customers. Sacrifice profits in the short-term if it creates an experience which will retain your customers in the long-term.

Keep customers excited twice. First, when they see the product and second when they get it home. The Home Shopping Network has eradicated the word selling to “we need to inspire people to engage with the product”. You can inspire customers by giving ideas, information and (hopefully) entertaining them so they can make an informed decision. They should be aware of all the facts on whether they can afford the product or if it fits their needs. Staying on top of the facts also helps them communicate their purchase or interest to other people.

Customers should feel more like family, than a person who pays for a product and is never heard of again. Knowing the company cares and will take steps to make sure you are completely satisfied, even after the purchase helps develop customer loyalty.

The Right Talent

An incorrect assumption CEO’s make in underperforming companies is ‘the working staff is not talented.’ That is not always true. If you do a talent assessment on the workforce, you’ll find many talented individuals holding the company together. The reason for underperformance is usually uninspired leadership. Every person has something which makes them extraordinary, but that doesn’t always mean they will fit in with your company.

CEO’s spend a lot of time trying to ‘fix’ people to fit in with the company’s culture or the company’s needs. Find the untapped talent at the company.  Too often, employee’s skill sets are simply mismatched with what they are doing. While keeping this in mind, be careful not to reverse engineer your organizational chart.

Ask the Why’s

Look for the ‘why’? Not the ‘what’? Ask why you need to be a part of this visions, ask why the employees are working for the company, ask why your company is selling this particular product. Understanding the reasons for everything, helps you understand what you have to achieve and why.

When you look towards successful people don’t just look at their strategies and business decisions, but dig deeper for the ‘why’. A lot of people get entranced by big companies and the size of their outreach, but rather should be looking for opportunity and what they can bring to the table. The impact they can add to the company is important. Go back to the why.

The best kind of partner is one who will invest the time in understanding and making others understand the story behind the product. They shouldn’t be solely focused on selling as many units, but on bringing the story to life. They will do everything possible to make it successful.

Role of a CEO

The best companies execute decisions for the short-term but run the business for the long-term. The CEO is responsible for creating sustainable value for their company, and ultimately creating value for all the constituencies they have; whether it’s the customers, employees, or the shareholders. They act like a shepherd to the business, creating sustainable opportunities and success for people.

A CEO’s job is to understand all the choices they have and to make informed, educated decisions for the long-term success of the company. They should both lead and be a role model for what they do and say, both internally and externally to set an example.

Following your Passion

Self-awareness is the key to everything.

To be self-aware, you need to know yourself. The most important thing you can do is know what your strengths and weaknesses are. It’s empowering to know what you’re made of. If you acknowledge your weaknesses, people are going to trust you more because you’re willing to share that. Know everything about yourself and find your path. Do what you’re passionate about and take chances. As Mindy Grossman, CEO of the Home Shopping Network, says, “Risk and boldness are the essence of a transformation.”

Never be in a position where you feel trapped. Believe in yourself and find the things that inspire and excite you, because you can only be successful when you do something you love. Block the external noise and do what you think is right, even if it goes against the grain. Don’t look backward, only move forwards. Remove negative energy in your surroundings, whether it is people or ideas, embrace all the good and bad things in life, and move on from that.

People should not be afraid of risk if they want to succeed. Don’t only look at what’s in front of you today, but take the insights you’ve learned and ask yourself where you want to see yourself in the next 5-10 years. The level of risk you take depends on the stage the company is in, but the most risk is taken in the early days.

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