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Wednesday, February 6, 2013

4 Steps to be a CEO in the KNOW or plan to GO

The greater the EGO the greater the FALL!

An entrepreneur with a great idea and drive is unstoppable.  They will aggressively pursue the development of the business in every way possible.  Some of the entrepreneurs have even done it before which emboldens them to pursue the next company.  Their drive and great idea do not provide the expertise on running the business.  For this reason, some companies seem to languish from the founder’s lack of ability and knowledge.  Sure, they can prepare business plans and slide shows.  They may even know how to raise capital.  All the pieces to create and launch the company are there, but sometimes the management ability is missing.  A business has many moving parts and the CEO must keep them operating well-oiled manner. Some CEOs are simply missing the needed management skills for that business.  They also retain an attitude that “this is my company and I will run it.”  This attitude can get in the way of developing the best operating business and making money for the shareholders.

Founders can miss the signs that they are out of their element.  The signs exist, but most people are unwilling to point them out for fear of making the CEO mad.  The CEO misses them because of feelings of ownership and allowing ego to take charge.  It is a difficult task to deal with the issue. Ultimately is the Board of Directors and/or the investors that are stuck with the horrible task. They must find a way to bolster the skill set of the CEO, supplement the skills by additions to the company, or find a new leader.  Resistance of the CEO to the forced actions can create conflict, which further complicates the task.

Your best way to ensure you are not the CEO that causes such concerns is to develop an awareness of attitudes and encourage feedback.  Remember, “You do not know what you do not know.”  You can also try a few of the following:

Obtain feedback:  Taking negative feedback and finding steps to improve can take you a long way.  The key is to find a way to convince people to provide the information without fear of retribution.  You will not know what to change without the info!  Once you have the data, develop a plan of personal improvement.

Supplement management:  No one is perfect at everything.  You may have skills that cover part of the company but not in the other.  Find a way to assess your strengths and weakness.  Consider supplementing them with hires.  One example is a CEO with great fund raising and finance skills and no operational skills.  Consider finding a COO to run the day-to-day activity!  Alternatively, picking team leaders for different areas may help.

Board members, mentors, and advisors: Trusted people willing to take time to coach or supplement your skills can be a great way to improve.  This requires having a listening relationship with these individuals and taking the steps to try what they say.  You may be able to adapt their ideas or improve on them. Always try to develop your skills and move in an ever-improving direction.

Plan for departure:  The last thing you want is to kill the company due to your lacking skill set.  You may never be able to adapt to the job because the company outgrew you.  This actually happens to some people.  The best think you can do is to recognize it and work with the Board to find an appropriate replacement.  After all, your duties are to the shareholders and to improving the company valuation.

Taffy Williams is on Twitter by @twilli2861.  Email questions to twilli2861@aol.com. More is available via his company website ,  photo website, or “LIKE” ColonialTDC on Facebook.  You can also find him in the group Startup Group on Linkedin. Other articles are in the Charlotte, NC- small business section of Examiner.com.

2 comments:

  1. Taffy, great tips. I would be much stronger with your last tip: "Plan for departure: ... This actually happens to some people."

    In fact, this is the best case scenario for 99% of us who will never be Steve Jobs or Ken Olsen. Hardly any founding CEO's last more than a few years. We should be planning for that day from the first, and looking forward to it!

    ~JJH

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  2. John thank you for the comment and for reading the article. It is appreciated!

    You make a great and important point. I actually addressed this topic in an article in an article titled " Entrepreneurs should prepare for an exit" http://www.examiner.com/article/entrepreneurs-should-prepare-for-an-exit

    Many founders for get that they should protect themselves. This article reminds them to consider their options.

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