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From supporting role to center stage, how CEOs are getting their groove back…

It’s no easy feat going from supporting role to center stage.

You have stepped up and in certain cases stepped out of your comfort zone. But old habits die hard and while you should be out centre stage, instead, you get fully immersed in the day to day tasks of the business, in the trenches with your team, spending your valuable time on tasks that someone else ºshould be doing. Could this be you?
I believe there are 3 steps you can take to get out of the trenches and into the lead:

1. Clearly communicate your vision

Not everyone likes to spend a day in a room with a couple of trusted collaborators to come up with the vision and the strategy for the company. It takes time and effort and a clear mind. Sometimes we are just too busy to take an “away day” together to do this valuable work. But, it must be done. Your vision will become the company’s target that your people work towards achieving. You must make the path clear for them to follow. Once the vision and strategy are clearly defined, you can then work with and through the team, enabling them to make the necessary progress to achieve the strategic objectives that will make the vision a reality. In parallel, you can then use your precious time and skills to sell the company’s vision to attract investors, customers, new employees and strategic partners. In this scenario, you are looking outwards towards the future and success, rather than inwards towards the tasks of the day. Out and leading rather than lost in the trenches!

2. Think big picture and let go the day-to-day tasks

Many CEOs come from functional management roles and are experts in their field. Moving into a CEO role brings them into general management so, very quickly, they need to become generalists – knowing as much as possible about all the areas of the business (and having the right people in place to advise and contribute). But coming from that functional background, it can be tempting to throw yourself into the myriad details of your functional expertise (Finance, IT, Sales etc.) and you end up being tactical rather than strategic. We all like the comfort of familiar activities where we can see results very quickly – especially when we do everything ourselves. But, as CEO you need to let go of the detail and free your mind to focus on the strategy. You also need to focus less on solving problems and more on defining what problems the company should be tackling. So, setting the agenda rather than solving the problem!
So, what’s holding you back from delegating the tasks to others? Is it a question of “it’ll be quicker if I do it myself” or “if I want it done perfectly, I need to do it”? Believing you can do it quicker and better yourself, leads you in an endless cycle of too little time and too much to do. So, practice delegation to your high potential employees. Decide what you must do yourself and delegate the rest to others. You will be rewarded with more time and more empowered and satisfied employees. People feel more engaged when they have rewarding and meaningful work – when you keep the more interesting bits for yourself, you are depriving others of the satisfaction of completing stretching and demanding projects.

3. Know your strengths, learn from your mistakes and find others with complementary skills

As Anthony K. Tjan and his co-authors said in their book “Heart, Smarts, Guts and Luck”, there is one quality most great entrepreneurs, leaders and managers have. That quality is self-awareness. You can improve your effectiveness by becoming more aware of what motivates you and your decision-making and through psychometric testing, including 360 feed-back, you can become more aware of your strengths and any development areas. When you make a decision, come back some time later and reflect on whether it was the right move and through analysis ensure you don’t make the same mistake again. Learn from how others approach situations – getting there with different paths. The best teams are made up of people who understand each-other’s strengths and weaknesses and are complementary. This is diversity at its best. Do you know yourself and who you have in your team? How they work best and how you can help them achieve their true potential? Start looking, listening and learning today.

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