Archives for posts with tag: Leadership

I used to work for a CEO who would give his considered feedback thus, ‘So Paul, just a few thoughts…’

I’ve expressed my dislike of the word ‘just’ before, but in this case it is well used. Coming from your CEO, ‘just a few thoughts’ could be translated into one of two ways. First, it’s ‘here are a few things you need to do to this version before I’m happy with it.’ The second is ‘here’s my feedback, your call on what you do to improve the document.’

How you interpret those few thoughts depends, of course, on you, your boss, and your working relationship. Do you have genuine autonomy, and work for someone who’s leadership style is the right blend of genuine delegation and guidance? Or do you work for someone who prefers to sign everything off and in effect has a more micro-managing style? If either is the case, what do you need to stop doing, start doing or continue doing to progress?

Over time we learn the style of the people we report into it and we become finely attuned to how they operate, what their values are, and what’s important to them. When we work successfully with them we’re effectively selling to them. I used to work with another CEO who would repeatedly say ‘yes’ at breaks in the flow while I was pitching an idea or a project to him. I used to call it the ‘yes that means no’. I knew that he was not with me and I needed to re-approach differently or pick another battle.

When you ask your CEO for feedback on a second version, and you get the ‘just a few more thoughts,’ well, then you’re probably running out of time…

This seemingly innocuous post is, as it turns out, a very important post for me, perhaps the most important in a long time. And I don’t mean for me in an ‘in my opinion’ sense; I mean for me personally.

I have a theory. It goes like this. There are leaders. They’re leaders in their field. We see them on screen, we hear about them or listen to them, we read about them. They might be sports people, musicians, business people, artists, inventors politicians, not-for-profit innovators, entrepreneurs. They might be the best at something that we do for leisure. They’re 1 in a 100, maybe more.

Then there are us. The rest of us. We’re the other 99, or 999, making up the overwhelmingly huge majority of the seething mass of humankind. We’re not the best at any one thing, so we don’t get watched, written about or listened to.

Yet almost all the external stimuli in the world come from the 1%, are about the 1%, intended for the consumption of the 99%. It lets us into the world of the 1% and encourages us to strive to join that elite club and leave the world of the also rans behind. More importantly, it’s our consumption of the 1%’s activities that provide the economics for the rich and famous to be rich and famous. The model doesn’t work otherwise.

What are we to do about this? Should we do anything?

This topic has preoccupied me for a long time. Actually, a very long time. For some of that very long time I’ve been turning my thoughts into a book which explores the topic in detail. But for now, I think it’s a fascinating conundrum.

In a previous post I talked about the 3 things a CEO needs to do really well. There are also 3 things that are equally important for the leader of the business not to do:

1) Interfere. You’ve hired the best people in the key roles – according to rule 3 of the previous post – so let them do their jobs

2) Push the HIPPO. The Highest Paid Person’s Opinion doesn’t count as much as much as the data and information coming into the business

3) Let them know who’s boss. They know you’re the boss, and modesty, humility and honesty are much more admirable traits in a leader

There are 3 things a CEO or Managing Director should be able to do really well:

1) Articulate the vision of the company, consistently and regularly

2) Ensure the financial welfare of the company. Secure the money in – accounts receivable and funding – watch the cash flow, keep to the budgets

3) Hire the best people possible in the key roles, either those with form or those who can grow into the role.

Master those 3 and you’re well on your way.