Advice from a CEO

A client of mine, a CFO of a mid-sized company recently met with the CEO at a complimentary company to gain some perspective on their industry. This particular industry enjoys a collaborative approach, and an understanding that it benefits all if each company grows. Kind of a “rising tide lifts all boats” mentality.

When my client returned, he shared his take-aways with me and his team. And I have to say, the CEO of that competitor showed much grace and wisdom in what he shared. My client has allowed me to post these thoughts here. You’ll find wisdom on how to lead vs. manage, the power of relationships in business, the value of strategy and a variety of other topics.  I hope they provide insight and ideas for you the way they did my client.

Below are the notes from yesterday’s meeting:

  • He described his company as family owned but professionally run. His President (a non-family owner) and team make decisions, and if people try to end-run the President and go to him (the CEO) he makes them follow the chain of command of the organizational chart. He has a son and daughter in the business, but they do not run the business.
  • When it comes to decision making, he described his company as nimble. They value speed in decision making to take advantage of opportunities before they pass by.
  • He spoke to the value of having an organizational chart that serves as the base for communication.
  • From a branding perspective, avoid being commoditized. Find your niche and work your lane hard!
  • Know who you are – don’t chase everything.
  • When it comes to initiatives, don’t move on to the next thing until the latest initiative is “optimized”.
  • Compensation is based on performance and experience – everyone is not simply paid on the same basis.
  • Engaged (good) employees recruit similar employees.
  • Chart and communicate a clear course! Your staff wants to know where they are going.
  • Hold everyone accountable for results, both rewards and consequences. Employees either meet the standard, or they don’t have a place here.
  • Optimize existing resources (equipment, space, etc.) before investing in new ones.