“A man (and a woman) must be big enough to admit their mistakes, smart enough to profit from them, and strong enough to correct them.”– John C. Maxwell
This quote by John Maxwell is perhaps one of the most practical ways of expressing the journey any CEO (including myself) goes through.
I have made plenty of mistakes, learned from them and worked towards improving myself. The last seven years have not been easy when it comes to people management and I am sure you can relate.
Truer words were never spoken; “with great power comes greater responsibilities”.
I have often been amazed by the overwhelming tasks that I am charged with as a CEO.
You are constantly under a microscope and every action or decision you make will directly or indirectly affect the lives of those whom you lead and the direction your organisation will take.
The part most people seem to forget is that CEO’s are human beings too.
We feel, hurt, fail and encounter more disappointments than you can imagine.
But none the less, it required that you and I remain grounded and firm even things are unsteady and it begins to feel like the world is colluding against you.
Knowing that, how can you as a CEO understand your roles better and ensure that at the end of the day you work towards attaining the company goal?
Let’s look at these 7 key roles
- It is your job to get the right people on board
Which CEO wants to work with a team made up of incompetent and de-motivated individuals?
What you want is a team that is fueled by passion for their job; a team working for a common agenda to attain the company goal.
Before I decided to follow my passion in HR, I worked in the finance department in one of the leading banks in Kenya.
Our CEO at the time had a very captivating way of ensuring he got the right staff to work for him.
Once the HR manager was done interviewing us, he would call all the candidates in for a “5-minute” interview.
When it was my turn, all he asked me was personal questions completely unrelated to the job such as, “how are your parents doing?”, “where do you go to church”, “are you a first born”, “are you married”
And from this question, he would go ahead to pick the right candidate based on his assessment of their true character.
This is where even the most qualified candidates that day did not end up getting the job. Even if you have a HR departments take a keen interest in who’s joining you organisation.
- You determine the company culture
Your company culture is made up the company goals, behaviors, attitudes and value systems that determine how the staff conducts themselves.
As CEO myself, I have had to work harder each day to set the tone and culture in the organization I lead.
As a CEO, you lead by example. By your actions, the team will follow.
Simple things like coming to work on time, meeting deadlines, client relations, office dressing and mannerisms are all enforced by YOU. The staff simply follows. So if you cut corners expect the same behavior. If you rude to staff don’t expect them to be courteous to your clients. The workplace is like a family unit with the boss being the parents and the staff being the children. The parents set the tone.
- You are a leader and a mentor
I have learnt that being a CEO is not a matter of having a spacious fancy office or swinging about in the comfort of a leather chair while gloating at the title.
No, being a CEO is all about leadership and mentorship. It is a never ending responsibility of growing and mentoring your team.
Even as the company grows and you want to focus on strategy and not operational issues leadership and mentoring is a role you should not delegate.
- You are the sole driver of the vision
Where is your company now and where do you see it in the next few years?
As a leader, you must keep reminding your staff of the vision. Why we come to work every day, why we do what we do, what is the point?
As one of the greatest leaders of our times – Bill Hybels suggests, “Vision is a picture of the future that creates passion in people.”
That is how you fuel your team and fill their passion bucket.
Myself, I make sure I hold regular internal trainings to ensure that the vision never becomes foggy among my team members.
Is this something you also do?
- You are a resource provider
Your staff needs resources to perform and thrive!
People cannot deliver if they don’t have the right tools and an enabling environment.
One of the common mistakes I see when employers are hiring sales staff is to pay a ‘little salary’ and think that the employee should be motivated to work hard by commissions. It rarely works and worst case is the same will be using your resources and time to job hunt.
- Decisions are yours to make
Have you ever had to make a decision that was so tough it almost meant broke you and made you question your leadership abilities? I have and it was not easy but I had to.
But that’s what people will look up to you for; someone who will finally make an informed decision that will benefit rather than destroy the company.
You team may consult you and ask for your opinion and input.
But remember that as a CEO, the buck stops with you.
- Motivating your team begins with you
How do you motivate your team?
Is it in monetary, non-monetary ways or both?
Did you know that it is estimated that 35% of people leave a job because of their boss?
And did you also know that only 28% of staff leave due to poor pay? What this means is that majority of people will leave your organizations for reasons other than money.
Motivating your team can be as simple as “being human”. Encourage and reward them for a job well done.
Find out what is bothering them and bridge the gap where they feel you are unapproachable.
Form one CEO to another…
I think you will agree with me when I say that this journey is undoubtedly a tough one.
It is a never ending daily experience filled with pro’s and con’s.
But ultimately, these ups and downs only serve to make us better in a revered position of leadership.
Wouldn’t you agree?
Perminus Wainaina is a Certified HR Consultant and the Managing Partner at Corporate Staffing Services where he manages a team of 20 staff. He helps CEOs, executives, and managers solve their biggest HR pains, dysfunctions, and key challenges and turn their teams into a well-oiled machine that contributes dramatically to business success.
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