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'Be the CEO of Everything You Do'

Even if you're not the boss, you should be acting like one. Here's how to take charge of your daily life.
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I'm not sure where it started, but a little saying has surfaced at our office that I think is great: "Be the CEO of everything you do."

Maybe it's a little motivational poster-esque, but giving everyone in the company ownership over their domain is important. For us, a culture where everyone approaches their job with a sense of leadership, craft, and responsibility fuels a highly motivated team.

I'm not saying employees should be left to their own devices, but we've found that great people thrive when they are handed the baton. I love seeing the fiery look that ignites in new employees' eyes when we tell them, "you're the CEO of everything you do." This little saying usually gives employees the confidence boost they need to start running towards challenges and doing great things.

Giving everyone the responsibility to set their own agenda, prioritize resources, and pull in the right people has also made our office more efficient. Projects run smoother and tasks are completed much faster when the person closest to the problem has the authority to make decisions.

Our saying also sets a tone for expectations. No matter how small the task or role, approaching it with the mindset of a CEO drives great work and awesome results. After all, would the CEO let inefficiencies and missed objectives go unnoticed? When everyone considers themselves a business leader, they realize their role can result in a better company, better brand, better office environment, and maybe—if it's the first day of an internship—better coffee.

So be the CEO of everything you do. Approach established processes with a skeptical eye, be the leader of solutions, set ambitious goals for yourself and measure your progress. Take risks, learn from failure, share ideas, and have high expectations of those you work with. Proactively add to your job description if you see a gap that needs to be filled. Lead your domain. No task is too small or unimportant to see it as an opportunity to be the boss.

Last updated: Apr 25, 2012

RILEY GIBSON | Columnist | CEO, Napkin Labs

Riley Gibson is the co-founder and CEO of Napkin Labs, a start-up that builds tools to help companies turn their Facebook fans into an army of collaborators for new insights and ideas. For more, check out the Napkin Labs blog.

The opinions expressed here by Inc.com columnists are their own, not those of Inc.com.



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