3 Common Struggles of Private Company CEOs

APR 27, 2017

And How To Overcome Them

If you are reading this article, you are likely a business leader, entrepreneur, CEO or possibly have a desire to lead an organization. Good! You and I have common interests! My purpose in writing this article is to support you in both "what to do" and "what not to do" to ensure your success. Having worked with countless companies, business leaders, board members, CEOs and C-level executives, the story remains very much the same - where most CEOs spend a majority of their time on a daily, weekly and monthly basis is incorrect and not properly balanced... and it is extremely obvious when viewing the performance of their companies.
As a business leader, where you spend your time matters...

Strategy Creation
Strategy is the most overlooked discipline for a majority of companies and arguably the most important. Many business leaders want to jump right into the planning and execution aspects without spending the needed time on a solid and vetted strategy. For these 'leaders,' progress is measured by how busy everyone is and how many tasks have been completed. Although this could have some success in the short term, it is by no means sustainable for the long term. For those who have attended either of my National Speaking Tours this year, ('Building an Effective Board For Your Company' or 'The Strategy of Strategy'), I speak at length on the history, evolution and next phase of strategy - a topic that spans 2,500+ years with a bulk of the story yet to be written (think A.I. and machine learning).

"Rarely is planning the cause of an initiative going off the rails, it is typically the underlying lack of strategy in the required prior step that causes most failures"

As much as the history of strategy is fascinating, it has been proven over and over again that proper strategy is the primary driver of success in business... and yet, this remains the most forgotten and overlooked aspect for a business. Spend the time to learn about the history, evolution and current-day strategy approaches. Then apply them. You won't be sorry. (if you've never created a proper strategy or simply don't know the best way to do so, reach out - I can work with you)
Trending & Metrics
Ahhh, your decision-making data. And your measurements. And applying this in your governance. 3 peas in a pod. What is the trending in your industry (long-term past and short term future)? What are your differentiators and are they still different? What is your competition doing (right and wrong)? Are you properly measuring your company's progress? How have you adjusted your strategy based on this input? When a CEO is asked these questions, there should be no hesitation or delay in the answer. These topic areas should be second nature, like an elevator pitch. Sadly, this is not always the case even though it is typically understood how important these are. Be sure to create automated feedback mechanisms and measurement criteria for trending and metrics in your organization, otherwise you are running blind.

Time Management
Utilizing your Strategic Roadmap as well as your Trending & Metrics data, directly correlate your time to these areas. This will not be something you can likely do overnight due to our collective 'conditioning' from chirps and squeaks from smart phones and laptops, but try to start the process. Tune out the 'noise' for a period of time each day to prioritize your thoughts and focus areas. Ensure as much of your daily activities are in line with your Strategy. If something is not in your strategic focus areas or requiring attention from your trending/metrics, do not focus time on it. Simple as that. Remember, 'busy' does not necessarily mean productive or successful. Set the right example and watch the benefits trickle down throughout your organization.

“Concentrate all your thoughts upon the work at hand. The sun’s rays do not burn until brought to a focus.”  - Alexander Graham Bell

In my opinion, these 3 areas are non-negotiable duties of the CEO. They cannot be avoided, nor should they. Your company depends on you for this. Your employees depend on you for this. I frequently recommend in my executive coaching that these 3 areas become focal points for self improvement and that consideration is made for ways to make them measurable. Additionally, private company CEOs truly do themselves a favor when they have formal guidance, support and governance in these important disciplines - either through a properly formed board or group of advisors.
What will you consider to conquer your leadership challenges?
About the Author: In addition to sitting on numerous boards, Mark A. Pfister is a certified Board Director and advises public, private and non-profit boards in efficient and effective operations. He is the inventor of the 'Board as a Service' (BaaS) engagement model and an expert project/program manager frequently consulting on strategic global initiatives in their initiation and operational phases....... <<Read full bio here>>
Have Mark join you for his National Speaking Tours:

'Building an Effective Board For Your Company' shows business owners and leaders the immense value of creating an experienced 'go-to' team - and most importantly, how to do it via a step-by-step roadmap.

'The Strategy of Strategy' guides you through the 2500+ year history, evolution and next phase of Strategy - and why it is so relevant to you personally as well as for your business. Build and leverage your own strategy to see how these focused efforts will help you thrive and reach your full potential.
(speaker video)