December 10, 2014
The Ten Commandments Of Being CEO

It is a rare day when there is free time in a CEO’s schedule. The “piling on” mentality takes over as soon as time becomes available. Often the person who is charged with successfully leading a company finds him or herself in the middle of countless meetings and emails. So much of this time is being squandered by leaders who have bigger fish to fry when it comes to managing the company. Controls must be in place to minimize the incursion of meetings into a leader’s schedule. The CEO needs to spend the majority of his or her time strategically driving the company forward.

In successfully moving the company towards its stated objectives, here are the Ten Commandments of being a productive CEO:

1. Thou Shalt Make Thy Numbers.

Making the top and bottom line numbers should be the most important priority for a CEO and should consume a large portion of his or her schedule.

2. Thou Shalt Love Thy Customers.

Meeting, engaging and living with existing and prospective customers is critical to achieving company objectives.

3. Thou Shalt Teach Thy Children Well.

Even though it’s hard, it’s also crucial to check in with the executive team to make sure they’re all on the same page. CEOs must have regular head sessions with team members, individually and as a group. Alignment serves to minimize the risk around mid stream adjustments and end of quarter surprises.

4. Thou Shalt Speak Often.

The CEO is also the CCO: the Chief Communications Officer. A company without clear communication is a company on a bad trail. CEOs need to learn to effectively communicate the company’s purpose and direction with the executive team and employees. The corporate goals and objectives should be communicated regularly.

5. Thou Shalt Be Open and Visible.

As organizations grow, transparency is sometimes difficult to maintain. Greater transparency yields greater confidence among team members.

6. Thou Shalt Know Thy Risks.

Staying on top of the company’s risk profile is a daily task because so many of the pieces are in motion. Staying in touch with competitive activity, supply chain management, monetary challenges, losing key staff and activist shareholders is quite the jigsaw puzzle to keep together. CEOs must be ever vigilant and watch risk closely.

7. Thou Shalt Push Innovation.

CEOs must be the champion for innovation in their companies. A highly qualified team tasked with performing its mandate can be inspirational for all levels of the company. Conversely, some CEOs get in the way of innovation by spending too much time on the day-to-day and forgetting that creativity is a critical aspect of successful businesses.

8. Thou Shalt Love Thy Board.

Not many CEO tenures are long lasting without a solid relationship with the company’s board of directors. This is an area where high levels of transparency equate to greater confidence and support from the board members.

9. Thou Shalt Make a Great Work Environment.

Creating a positive culture and pleasant work experience sets companies apart from each other. As the visible head of the company and a source of motivational inspiration, the CEO has a duty to make sure the passion meter is at a high level. A positive culture does not encourage employees to play the blame game. Instead, a positive culture uses situational challenges to elevate everyone’s level of play.

10. Thou Shalt Remain Real and Human.

Finally, there is a quote from the book The Art of Possibility about Rule No. 6, which is “not to take yourself too seriously.” There are no rules 1-5 or 7+, just the absolute truth of Rule No. 6 that taking oneself too seriously is a complete waste of time and can be debilitating to an organization. A CEO not only leads but also serves the company. A common thread among many of the world’s best CEOs is the quality of being humble in tandem with possessing absolute power over the company.

John Runne
John Runne is a seasoned business advisor with over thirty years of experience in advising Fortune 1000 companies and their CEOs on strategy and corporate planning. Mr. Runne’s experience includes engagements with a host of leading public and private companies where he served multiple times as Chairman of Strategic Advisory Councils and boards devising and driving corporate strategic objectives. Mr. Runne has also advised and been actively involved in events leading to acquisitions and sales of companies. He has guided multi-billion organizations on their respective marketing, packaging and positioning of brand products. Mr. Runne has provided strategic counsel at the CEO and board level for both public and private companies through the M&A process.

Other Articles by John Runne:

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Get In Tune With Your Executive Team