Most CEOs were not prepared to be CEOs. It's a big shift. You go from chasing your dream to being responsible for the livelihood of your employees.
So how do you lead your company through the complexities of growth and multiply your impact? Build a personal system that allows you to thrive. If you're thriving as a leader, then so will your company.
These are the nine executable ideas that have helped me thrive as a CEO.
1. Find a routine.
Practice a routine that allows you to thrive -- physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually. My morning routine sets me free from the chains of worry and drama. I wake up at 5 a.m., spend time on the treadmill, watch a course, have a coffee, and meditate. By 7 a.m., I'm ready to give energy to the world because I've spent time fueling my own energy.
2. Create a 25-year framework.
If you want to align all your actions for your growth, you need a long-term vision. This enables you to quickly bounce back from challenges you face along the way. I learned this from Dan Sullivan's The 25-Year Framework. How will you strategically plan your company and run your day-to-day strategy if you have a hundred quarters to do it?
3. Make personal breakthroughs.
Personal breakthroughs expand your ability to lead. These come from four specific ingredients: commitment, courage, capacity, and trust.
4. Use exercises to help define your goals and values.
Two mental exercise tools have helped me lead my team with clarity.
The first tool is the preparation tool-- a spreadsheet with three vertical columns. In a column reserved for objectives, write a list of the people/things that are important to you in life. In the next column, write a positive sentence in the present tense related to each objective. Assign a metric to measure success in that aspect, and then assemble all these sentences into a paragraph and write it down. Read this paragraph daily to inspire and realign you every day.
The next tool is the top-5 tool. At the beginning of each week, plan out your top five priorities for each day. As a CEO, you'll have days when a crisis needs your attention.
The top-5 tool ensures that you stay on track with your personal vision and achieve a healthy work-life integration.
5. Have deliberate practice.
Imagine two people, Peter and Jane, training for a marathon. Peter commits to running every day and eating better. Jane decides to hire a coach, who builds a precise nutrition and training schedule for her. Who do you think performs better in the marathon?
If you answered Jane, you are correct. Jane followed a deliberate practice as advised by someone with more expertise on the subject. You can continually expand your impact by learning from experts and aiming for deliberate practice in your goals.
6. Use three timeframes to structure your week.
Dan Sullivan's book How the Best Get Better explains an entrepreneurial system of three timeframes per week: execution days, preparation days, and free days. I aim for a maximum of three execution days a week. Running webinars, for example, is for my execution days. I then allocate two days for preparation. The remaining days are free days. These time frames will make you a far more effective leader without your burning out. I recommend scheduling at least three days out of the office to disconnect and rest.
7. Don't have an office in the office.
I don't have my own office space in the Growth Institute office. That's because my role as the CEO is not to execute--it's to lead and provide strategy while my team executes. Having an office in the office will distract you from your true role as a CEO. Fulfill your execution elsewhere, without distractions, and focus on leadership and strategy when you're in the office with your team.
8. Play chess, not checkers.
When you see your team as checkers, every piece is a uniform--the same size and with the same capability. You end up simply managing all the pieces and how they each move around. When you see your team as chess pieces, you recognize each one as having its own strengths and weaknesses. The way you strategize shifts dramatically.
To be a better CEO, stop managing your team and start leading them. Grow their strengths and foster teamwork that offsets one person's weakness with another person's strength.
Have a dashboard displaying the key performance metrics that anyone in the company can access. Dashboards allow you to quickly see what's going well and what needs your attention.
On my execution days, the first thing I do is open my dashboard and evaluate, "Where do I need to spend my time today?" Using dashboards will help you prioritize wisely and focus your team.