Level One: A "Start Up" Business.  

You've got no real control yet, nor freedom.

Level Two: An "Owner Reliant" Business.  

You're a full-time business owner whose business is working-as long as you do. Now you have control, but with that control comes long hours and the sense that all the decisions, all the risks, all the responsibility-all of it-rests on your shoulders. Every day, you have to keep going because if you stop, it all ends. You have the control, but no real freedom.

You're the owner of a business that runs without needing your presence or personal production. You've got the systems, team and culture so your business's success is independent of you. Working for your business is now a choice, not an obligation or a requirement.

I can spot a Level 3 CEO from a mile away....and the reasons why might surprise you.

  1. They are control freaks -- but they channel that obsession with control to productive uses.  A Level 3 CEO is fanatical about their systems, controls, and culture. They have their business streamlined and everything within the company is easily replicated thanks to their master system -- the system of how they organize, store, access, and refine their company systems.

    Hiring new employees is a breeze thanks to written onboarding procedures. Monthly reporting is a snap due to pre-set reporting expectations that are put in place for staff members and management. And their business is able to handle staffing shortages, vacation schedules and growth because everything is laid out thanks to a series of systems and controls.

    The best systems end up in two forms: Form one is the full system documented thoroughly. This form is critical for archiving institutional learnings. Form two is the simple tools that an experienced user of this system can use. These tools are fast and easy for a person already well versed in the system to use to get the needed result. Ideally you'll have both for your organization.

    Yes, the Level 3 business owner takes control very seriously. But a micro-manager they   are not....

  2. They give their key staff space to be great. First, Level 3 CEOs lay out a unified, clear, and compelling picture of who the company is and why they are in business.  This helps align their leaders and team to so that their activities are all focused on the same end.their best.

    They give their staff clear a clear and emotionally engaging answer to three questions:  Who are we?  What do we really do?  And why do we do it.

    For example, with my company Maui Mastermind, we are the nation's premier business coaching company.  We help business fall in love with their companies again.  And the reason why we do it is because outside of families, doing this is likely going to be the single greatest way we impact the world.

    Now you try it for your company.  Who are you?  What is it that your business really does?  And why is it so important that your business does this at all?

    What's more, Level 3 CEOs recognize that they cast a pretty big shadow.  They are careful to plan spaces away from the office so that their leadership team can take the sunshine they need to grow.  They show that they trust their key people to do great work by giving them the space to rise to the occasion.

  3. They hand off ownership, not tasks.  Level 3 CEOs don't just dole out assignments and tasks, they get their staff to take ownership of key functional areas of responsibility.

    A Level 3 CEO shows they trust their team, systems, and culture, by regularly giving his or her team the room to get things done.  Lessor CEOs weaken their teams by constantly looking over their shoulders, or emailing them for status updates each day.

  4. They have an exit strategy. A level 3 business owner gets the opportunity to decide their future. They are no longer chained to their desk, a slave to their next sale. They are now free to choose their own path, whatever that might be. They get to to make that decision and choose any of these three main exit strategies:

    1. You can sell the business and move on to your next great adventure.

    2. You can scale the business to the big time.

    3. You can passively own the business, with a greatly diminished role for yourself in its daily operation.

The main secret of a Level 3 CEO is trust. Trust in your systems and processes. Trust in your company culture. Trust in the competence and integrity of your staff. And finally, trust in yourself to let go and look at the bigger picture.