As a CEO or business owner, it’s hard figuring out what things to focus on, where to allocate our resources, and how in the world we’ll find the time to do it all. It can be overwhelming. When you’re paralyzed by all of these thoughts and tasks, it’s hard to be an effective CEO.
I love Peter Drucker. In addition to famously saying, “Culture eats strategy for breakfast,” he also said, “There’s nothing so useless as doing efficiently that which should not be done at all.” All of us have a “to do” list. But, do we move straight down the list or do we assign a priority to each task and accomplish the highest priority task first? I know one CEO that has done this for over thirty years now. The choices the best CEOs make to manage their personal well-being and effectiveness are precisely that- personal.
But what separates the best CEOs from the rest is having a personal effectiveness mindset that they weave into not only their personal life, but their work life as well. They manage 3 crucial dimensions of their personal effectiveness:
- Using time and energy.
- Choosing a leadership model.
- Maintaining perspective.
I know several CEOs that use each of these well. One is a managing partner of a successful investment firm who used his time and energy wisely. He understood that work was a series of sprints where he had to mentally run a race. But when the race was over, he built in times of recovery. He called them clarity breaks. His ability to run the next sprint was predicated on having that clarity break where he could mentally recover. Another CEO is a disciplined runner and cyclist and created the ability to run those work sprints by being physically and mentally fit. Neither of these CEOs let time control them, they took control of their time.
Another thought here is to consider adding a “to be” list, along with your “to do” list. In that big meeting with your team, do you need to be an encourager or be tough, but empathetic? Maya Angelou wrote a poem which says, “I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but they will never forget how you made them feel”. Maintaining a posture of humility is a great perspective to practice.
Having an idea of how we need to show up in the next sprint will help us in our personal effectiveness. Keep a tight, but loose schedule, care enough to compartmentalize, and infuse energy into your routine.
In the last several years, a CEO I admire and respect asked me to read a book by Tommy Spalding, titled “Heart Led Leader”. It was a book they resonated with him, and he know it would with me as well. Spalding believes every CEO should have a leadership philosophy that they can follow daily. “Authentic leaders live and lead from the heart and in doing so, transform their teams, organizations, and communities,” says Spalding.
It was clear that this book had a significant impact on this CEO because this philosophy draws on qualities like humility, empathy, and love. This CEO wanted me to know that he aspires to be a heart led leader and I can tell that his leadership reflects these attributes. The best CEOs keep their job and themselves in perspective. They never make it about them, and they embrace servant leadership. The attributes of humility and gratitude help CEOs make it about others.
To be an exceptional CEO, you don’t have to excel in all 6 mindsets we’ve discussed recently. Excel in a few and be competent in the rest. As you examine each mindset and your company, some things probably come to mind that you need to start doing, stop doing, and keep doing. Start there.