Lead, Follow, Or Get Out of the Way CEO


Just when you think you’ve got this business-thing all sorted out … sales are good, customers are happy, you’re making money and you’re growing –  just what every business owner dreams of – your business decides to take on a life of its own.

After all, you’ve become the consummate marketer and it’s now it’s all coming your way.  No, I mean, it really is all coming your way, a bit like a fire hose when you were hoping for a steady stream.  You’re overwhelmed and you’re struggling to keep up.

Sometimes that’s the way it happens, and other times you’re in a holding pattern, hoping and praying that things get better.  You may be wondering what happened to the first “flush of success” that transported you from start-up to the owner of a growing business.  And now you’re trying to figure out  how to move forward.

At some point, every business owner has to transform into a business leader, or the business will fail

What does leadership mean anyway?

Leadership is a state of mind

Isn’t “leadership” for bigger businesses?  Actually leadership is how you see your business.  I’m often surprised at the business owners who have staff and are still trying to run the business as if they’re “self-employed”.  The staff are frustrated, the sales are stalled and the business is lurching from one new idea to another.  There is no leader at the helm.  On the other hand, I’ve run into “solo” businesses that are focused, directed and achieving their goals … all because the owner understands what a leader does.

What is a business leader?

  • a leader is a person who guides and directs
  • a leader combines both  inspiration and preparation
  • a leader is the director of the action, not the actor

The primary goal of an effective Leader:

is to increase the company’s bottom line

C.E.O. is not just a title … it is a responsibility

Too many people think that because they own a business, they are the C.E.O. without realizing that the title actually means Chief Executive Officer … or the one in charge of making executive decisions.  It means more than just providing services and marketing.  It means having a vision for the business … knowing what the mission is.  It means putting all the pieces in place that will make it happen… and constantly measuring how the business is doing.  It means establishing goals and plans that will influence everything about how the business operates – from the people in your business to those who use it.  And for most it means a new skill set, a new way of thinking and embracing new habits.

What skills does a C.E.O. need?

Conceptual:  a C.E.O. needs to have a clear understanding of the overall functioning of your business, and how it relates to the wider marketplace

Planning:  a C.E.O. needs to be skilled at setting goals and designing programs and systems to achieve those goals.  Planning includes making sure you have all the resources necessary to make it happen.

Organizing:  a C.E.O. needs to be able to assign and allocate tasks (yes, in other words delegate) and resources to achieve your objectives.

Staffing:  as you grow you need to be able to identify staffing requirements, recruitment, selection and training of employees or contractors.

Leading: Too many business owners take their direction from their staff, their customers, their friends and their families.  A real C.E.O. gives direction and motivates everyone else to follow that direction so together they can realize the vision of the company.

Controlling:  much as many business owners want to ignore “the numbers”, a real C.E.O. understands the importance of measuring and control – everything – from standards of performance to outcomes.  Why, because they need to be able to take corrective action swiftly and make adjustments to stay on course.

Now that you know what you need to know, it’s time to start working on those skills and habits that move you from Entrepreneur to C.E.O.