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CEO Topics

Communication Leadership
Fund Raising Interviewing
Strategic Planning Leadership Team/Structure
Global Expansion  

 

Communication

The CEO is the leader of the business and as such, is expected to be an excellent communicator. This means more than just being eloquent, it means delivering meaningful content as well. The CEO needs to be able to communicate the essence of the business strategy and equally important, the methodology for achieving it. The CEO needs to be approachable -- every encounter should be a memorable one, even at the coffee machine. The CEO is expected to be able to receive critical input and understand how to deliver critical output without offense. The CEO is expected to be able to run a meeting efficiently, illustrating how to respect time.The CEO is expected to understand when positive contribution is being made and so recognize it. The CEO is expected to be able to stand in front of the team and deliver motivating presentations (and show how to be brief). The CEO is expected to be able to lead sales calls, develop partner relationships, discuss pricing and deflate critical support situations. The CEO needs to be able to use communication skills for many things.

Not everyone is born with the capability to be an excellent communicator -- in fact, few people seem to have this as a natural skill. It does not mean you will fail in taking on the CEO role, it means you have to work hard to be an effective communicator and more importantly, understand how to use the team around you to compensate for any weaknesses. This section addresses the many aspects of communication the CEO should be aware of as well as a variety of ways communication skills can be improved. It should be no surprise, that practice does make perfect in this instance, but even endless practice will not turn a poor communicator into an eloquent one, especially in spontaneous scenarios. More

Leadership

Leadership can be defined in several ways depending on what type of leader you talk to. Leaders can lead by positive example, which tends to draw extreme loyalty from the people around you. Leaders can lead by decree, which can work when the team responds well to directives and commands. Leaders can lead by consensus, which motivates with a sense of empowerment. Leaders can lead by a combination of several techniques, which can work well depending on how the team is structured and whether they can take in a possibly inconsistent interpretation of leadership. You can lead with many styles, they all can work if you understand how your style of leadership defines the type of team you need around you. One thing is constant, you do need to lead, feel comfortable making decisions and most importantly accept that you hold final responsibility for the result.

This section explores a variety of leadership styles, how those styles manifest themselves in terms of team structure, what are the pitfalls to pay attention to and perhaps most important, whether or not there are times when you need to change your leadership style to push the Company forward to a new plateau of success. More

Fund Raising

Often referred to as the activity that you never stop doing. As CEO, you are always on the look out to draw interest in the Company. If you are actively looking for funding, many of the tasks are self-evident. If you are not actively looking, you still need to strengthen the profile of the business so that you are always in a position to go after funding should the need arise. The challenge cited by most CEO's is how to avoid drowning in fund-raising activities making it difficult to pay attention to running the business. In many respects, the ultimate fund raising accomplishment is an unsolicited offer to sell the business (e.g. high value), so as CEO you never can take your eye off the fund raising ball.

This section looks at the core challenge of fund raising. We identify the main objectives the CEO should pay attention to. We also segway into some of the details of closing a round of funding although relevant details can also be found in the Financing and Legal section. More

Interviewing

Interviewing is a critical skill and is covered in most all the Operating Discipline sections of InsideSpin. The CEO needs to be the best at it as choosing the right team members, especially leadership team members, is one of the top two or three critical decisions the CEO needs to make right (ideally all the time).

Some CEO's choose to interview all candidates for employment (at least in the final stages of an interview cycle), some prefer only to be involved during senior hires, some only handle direct reports. CEO involvement in interviewing takes time away from other tasks. It can also be seen as interfering by other managers (too bad for them comes to mind). In the end, the CEO is responsible for building a successful company and should be able to be as involved as needed in choosing team members committed to achieving success.

This section explores how the CEO can perfect relevant interviewing skills. How the CEO makes decisions on when and when not to be involved in choosing team members. It also explores how the Human Resource function works with the CEO to establish success planning, a critical factor that should be explored during the interview process. More

Strategic Planning

The CEO should always leave time to manage the corporate strategy. Given you should build plans for success (its surprising how many people build plans that mostly account for failure), the CEO should continually extend the strategy so it always looks 3-5 years into the future (beyond 5 is too supernatural for most).

Strategic planning is often a formal activity organized once or twice a year. It involves at least the senior leadership team and often other strong talent to maximize the outcome. Some companies are poor at managing the strategy so effectively reinvent it each time they meet. Others think they never need to revisit the strategy and find over time (too late) the company has drifted from the market it was pursuing.

The strategy should be written down, available to every team member and drive the top level objectives of everyone on the team. Strategic planning is a CEO-led activity, although other team members can take a lead role in helping to shape (and validate it). This section explores the key elements of a strategic plan, a variety of ways to approach strategic planning events and how the strategic plan ties into overall company activity. More

Leadership Team/Structure

Wearing many hats may be a great skill when starting a business, but over time, a short period of time, other people need to be able to take on responsibility for getting things done. Selection of the leadership team as well as how it is organized is a critical responsibility of the CEO. If you are forming your own company, you make all the choices. If you are stepping into an existing business, the leadership team is often in place and operating according to existing plans. To be successful as a CEO, you need to be able to handle both situations equally.

This section explores how to structure a leadership team so that it complements your strengths and weaknesses. We also explore how to work with an existing team with a goal to avoid the desire to change things for the sake of change (although change is needed at times). Given the goal is to achieve success, the leadership team, driven by the CEO, is critical to get right. More

Global Expansion

Many companies set their goals to safe targets from a sales perspective. Selling in the local geography or to one or two narrow segments of customers is not uncommon. Over time, the pace of growth slows to the point where new avenues for selling need to open up. Expanding globally is often the best approach.Many challenges arise though, the least of which is overcoming the unknown of selling farther away from the home turf and to segments of customers the team is less personally familar with. Travel, communication, cultural differences, marketing reach and more are seen as impossible to tackle. The fear of failure overcomes the desire to expand -- the business settles into somewhat of a stagnant operating model.

This section identifies many of the challenges to overcome when faced with the desire to expand globally. There are many challenges beyond what is identified here, but the following highlight many of the key ones that you should consider and prepare for.More