Tuesday, August 12, 2014

The top 22 mistakes of first-time CEOs

Edwin Miller is a four-time CEO and an accomplished author on business innovation and creating high performance teams. Miller’s experiences with transforming both private and public companies in good and bad economies helped him create the 9Lenses framework, a social approach to assessing and optimizing a business through comprehensive insights into all areas of an organization. Organizations including HP, Raytheon, and George Mason University use the 9Lenses method.

I have been building this list of CEO mistakes for many years based on my own experiences. This is not rocket science — some of these points may seem obvious when you read them — but it is really tough to know what you haven’t experienced, and I wish I’d had a list like this when I was a first-time CEO.

Although this is a list for first timers, folks in their second, third, or fourth gig also make these same mistakes.
In no particular order, here are the top 22 mistakes a CEO is likely make:

1. Does not begin to build a culture of accountability in the organization on day one

2. Fails to keep their mouth closed and their ears and eyes open

3. Does not build understanding, trust, and credibility with key stakeholders in the first three months on the job

4. Over-promises and sets unrealistic expectations early in the game

5. Makes decisions for change before having the understanding and credibility of the market, business, and people

6. Drives changes too quickly and fails to understand how much change the business and culture can withstand

7. Fails to establish a true vision and strategy working with the key stakeholders and employees of the company

8. Complains and vents to the board and others about problems of the past versus talking about solutions

9. Fails to drive a strategy and operating plan that creates a successful business model

10. Over-hires talent without having the right understanding of the needed people, processes, and technology

11. Fails to focus, focus, focus on the opportunities and key metrics and make the high impact moves to remove the unproductive pieces of the business

12. Over-hires sales and marketing well ahead of a proven sales model

13. Gets too involved in execution of the decisions versus leading the company to improve the execution

14. Lets the ego of being CEO get in the way of being a leader with a servant’s heart

15. Stops being self-aware, introspective, and continually working to improve who they are as a person, leader, and manager

16. Becomes reactive in a tough situation based on pressure to succeed in the new role

17. Loses balance in their life as a CEO when they need to exercise spirit, body, and mind

18. Fails to accept that he or she cannot possibly know everything when no investor or board member expects that of any CEO

19. Fails to find some strong mentors who can provide insight and accountability

20. Finds him/herself looking at numbers and emails instead of being with customers and staff

21. Is either too right brained or too left brained when a CEO must strike a balance, either in him/herself or through the team

22. Is too hard on people as the expectations for success are very high


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