As a business owner, do you wonder what your job is as CEO? Once your team reaches 10, 20, or 50 employees, what should you focus on? At what point do you let go of the day-to-day operations and transition to a leader?
Last Friday, I moderated a roundtable of business owners who shared their most pressing issues. After listing common challenges like sales growth, building a management team, work/life balance, and reducing complexity in their business, the group decided that the underlying issue in the room was making the to shift to being, and acting like, a CEO.
The following is a transcript of the flipchart notes from the conversation, which generated thoughtful questions, proven strategies, and the starting point for a CEO’s job description.
I hope this brings some value to aspiring and practicing CEOs of small, growing companies.
Roles of the CEO
- To keep the business going and customers happy
- Hiring the right people, having standards in place, training, control systems, and holding people responsible, getting people to buy into the vision
- Vision, creating overall picture of company’s success
- Protect the company and nurture it to grow
- Provide vision, energy, inspiration, and motivation to others
- Leadership and facilitation of strategy
Questions to Ask When Transitioning to a CEO Role:
- What is the organizational structure?
- What type of documentation exists to replicate the work of the company?
- What defines “poor performance” and what are the implications?
- Have you done financial modeling to get to where you want to be?
- Have you defined the responsibilities of the CEO position?
- Do you have the resolve to transition to a CEO role?
Proven Strategies & Lessons Learned in Transitioning to CEO
- Relinquished literal or figurative “ownership” of company – stock, day-to-day operations, customer relationships, etc.
- Needed to train people properly
- Got rid of the arsonists who create the fires
- Realized that 95% performance was still an “A”; things didn’t have to be perfect
- Discovered importance of hiring on character and enthusiasm
- Clarified, systemized, and reinforced
- Removed emotion and judgment in favor or objectivity and numbers