Improving your Effectiveness as a Chief Executive Officer


Chief Executive Officers (CEOs) spend much of their time focusing on day-to-day issues and outcomes.  They may feel trapped on a treadmill of activity with ever increasing workloads, a lack of fulfillment and general frustration with life.  This rugged breed of individuals sometimes thrust into success through entrepreneurial activities and feeling as through they have become a CEO through default, quite often feel lonely and despairing.  They may ask themselves many questions.  What is a CEO?  What does a CEO do?  How does a CEO act and think?

One major personal conflict is that of role definition.  How is a CEO’s job defined?  The major issue facing the CEO is how to begin to act as one when success has been achieved through being an outstanding do-er.  Recently a CEO told me that the most significant change that he had to make was to stop thinking like a salesman and to begin to start thinking strategically like a CEO.

There are many steps to take and in this article I will explore some of these aspects.

1.            Define Your Role

You may say that you have defined your role yet you still seem to be focusing on a range of conflicting activities.  When did you last define your role?  How did you do it?  May I suggest that you clearly and succinctly write down in a sentence how you see your role.  Next identify no more than ten major job functions and list them.  Try to focus on outcomes and what you see as the core functions of your role – the things that you see as being of absolute importance to you and your company, such as strategy identification and implementation, organizational effectiveness through building an effective team, strategic financial leadership and managing external stakeholder relationships through being the company ambassador.  Remember the Pareto Principle 20% of your job will give you 80% of your results.  So focus on your top 3 job functions and achieve 80% of your results.  The most important ones relate to strategy, team-building and sales.  Then, once you have done this keep a time log for five days and evaluate your time use against your written job role.  Be prepared for some shocks.  Avoid the temptation of trying to change your behavior during the data collection phase.  Spend some time in careful analysis and write an action plan to make you more focused and thus more effective.

2.            Articulate Your Personal Vision

Write down what you think is the vision of an effective CEO.  Remember, if you haven’t written it down, you haven’t thought it through.  If you focus on this and review it daily you will soon achieve this picture as a person will soon become the sum total of their thoughts.  Each day, focus on this vision and you will begin to achieve it as you orientate every aspect of your being to achieving it.


Some areas that other CEOs have identified include:

  1. Maintaining a balanced life style.
  2. Building a learning culture.
  3. Communicating your vision.
  4. Knowing the company’s direction.
  5. Motivating the team for results.
  6. Monitoring progress towards the plan.
  7. Leading by example.
  8. Facilitating and delegating effectively.
  9. Relating to the external environment.
  10. Managing your time effectively.


3.            Identify Your Roadblocks

The next stage is to identify what is preventing you from achieving the things that you consider are important in your vision.  This may involve looking at the root causes which sustain the problems you have identified.  Ask yourself, “What is holding me back in this area?”  Look for the current root causes and resulting factors causing these problems.  Identify and write down what prevented you from taking effective action.  It is now imperative that you take action to address these issues.

4.            Plan Your Actions

The old adage that “If we fail to plan we plan to fail” is true also for CEOs.  Many people are great on articulation but short on action.  It is good to have plans but what is better is to have simple plans with defined outcomes and specific dates to achieve the results.  This is probably one of the most difficult areas – that of follow through.  A mentor can be very helpful in this process so that real progress can be made by the CEO in the mess of reality confronting their world.  A mentor may have to push, confront and act as a catalyst to take the CEO out of a comfort zone into a new area of growth.  This in itself may be very threatening, but it is essential for the CEO to be made accountable to encourage change and development. The results can be outstanding with accelerated growth and a concentration of focus with an increase in effectiveness.


In conclusion, why don’t you give it a try?  You have nothing to lose and a lot to gain.  The results that accrue from a clear vision with defined action outcomes are inestimable.