Being appointed to your first CEO role is a pivotal moment in a person’s career. In the words of Winston Churchill, it is the ‘end of the beginning’: you’ve already demonstrated you’re capable of taking on the most senior role in a company; now it’s time to actually prove these skills in real time, leading from the front.
Doing this for the first time can understandably feel daunting. Every company is unique, there is no one-size-fits-all instruction leaflet to navigate those career-defining first few months.
Writing in Forbes magazine, Sean Manning, a business founder and CEO, curated the useful advice he acquired over the course of his career, to help prepare the springboard for a first time CEO.
Hone Your Observation Skills
Chances are you’ve already mapped out your short and long term business goals and have a clear vision of where you want to take the business. If it’s your company then the business will already have made significant in-roads here. However, if you’re entering the role as the result of promotion or moving to a different company then it’s essential you take time to observe the current state of affairs. Manning writes ‘before instituting your own vision, you should dedicate time to understand why things have been set up in their current form’. This will give you the opportunity to understand what’s working well and where the changes are required and iterate your own goals as required.
Identify Your Team’s Talents
While taking time to observe the current direction a business is moving in, make sure you also put time into learning about the people around you. This will allow you to ensure that colleagues are working in roles that really play to their strengths.
Bearing in mind how vital it is to be able to delegate in your role, this will also help you identify the best people who are up to the task of leading on new projects.
Don’t Ride The Highs & Lows Too Dramatically
Life and business is full of ups and downs and you could find yourself navigating the company through a particularly challenging time on more than one occasion. CEO burnout is common so make sure that whilst you’re negotiating obstacles, you don’t lose sight of your own wellbeing.
In the words of Manning ‘the CEO role is often stressful and requires immense focus but can quickly burn you out if you ride the highs and lows too dramatically’.
Ultimately your key purpose is to provide the company with security, so ensuring you’re not compromising your ability to do this is essential.
Recognise & Reward Your Employees
This might seem obvious, but one of the best company assets are the people who run it. The keyword Manning uses here is empathy. Showing your workforce just how much you trust, value and respect them is crucial, particularly if this is your first CEO rodeo as this will help guarantee performance and production.
Remember this is your opportunity to really drive growth and bring about meaningful change in your business. You’ve earned this role as a result of your skills and experience, so make sure you let this achievement kickstart your confidence and get you into the right mindset to really hit the ground running.