It’s a CEO’s job to ensure a company is successful, and that’s a huge burden to put on anyone. Most CEO’s have honed their skills over several years, undergoing continuous education and finding out (the hard way) the best ways to motivate different employees and departments depending on the industry. However, even the most seasoned CEO can get cold feet if performance is down (reported by Chris Morris for CNBC), if she’s in a new role or if there’s a particularly thorny challenge. Fortunately, there are some tried and true tricks to help these executives quickly improve performance.
1. Keep on learning
There are probably countless training seminars (written by Jacquelyn Smith for Forbes), programs, workshops and retreats that cater specifically to your industry (and maybe specifically to CEOs in your industry). Don’t use lack of time as an excuse; everyone has the same hours in each day. You have to prioritize continuing education or you’re guaranteed to fall behind the competition. Your company may just replace you for someone who does make the time to keep up with the industry.
2. Remember everything’s a learning experience
To make it to CEO, you’ve had a lot of bumps in the road and years of experience; that’s the most incredible education you could ask for. However, it’s useless if you don’t confront your experience, analyze it and learn from it. Reflecting on the past is a great way to predict the future and can help you make better informed decisions. This includes the good and the bad.
3. Get it in writing
The act of writing (or typing) is a great way to make you clarify what’s going on in your mind. It’s a solid exercise for yourself and a great way to reach out to employees. Plus, it ensures that you never forget anything. Getting something in writing makes it official and can also provide a host of health benefits (reported by Amanda L. Chan for the The Huffington Post) including de-stressing (something every CEO needs). For accountability, consider starting a blog.
4. Learn from others
Whether it’s reading books or blogs from other CEOs or networking, sometimes you don’t have to learn everything the hard way. You can get inspiration, ideas and motivation from others in similar situations. If possible, choose a mentor (no matter where you are in your career). A little guidance, empathy and compassion goes a long way.
5. Ask for feedback
In your position, it’s normal for people to be wary of sharing honest feedback and they’ll almost always bite their tongues rather than ruffle the feathers of the big wigs. Be truly open to honest feedback, offering an anonymous approach if possible. This should be from your board and employees alike to get a well-rounded perspective. Most importantly, try not to take everything personally and know you can’t please everyone, but if there’s a recurring thing, you need to take action.
Top 10 Best CEO Reputations
- Tony Hsieh (Zappos)
- Richard Branson (Virgin)
- Mark Zuckerberg (Facebook)
- Marc Benioff (Salesforce)
- Mary Barra (GM)
- Larry Page (Google)
- Russell Simmons (Def Jam)
- Tim Cook (Apple)
- Arianna Huffington (The Huffington Post)
- Elon Musk (Tesla)
Top 10 Worst CEO Reputations
- Donald Trump (The Trump Organization)
- Jamie Dimon (JP Morgan Chase)
- Martha Stewart
- Marissa Mayer (Yahoo!)
- Ron Johnson (JC Penney)
- Steve Ballmer (Microsoft) (Microsoft named Satya Nadella as its new boss)
- Mike Duke (Walmart)
- Dan Cathy (Chick Fil-A)
- Lloyd Blankfein (Goldman Sachs)
- Brian Harrison (Solyndra)
No tips or tricks are going to be worth anything if you don’t actively apply the knowledge that you receive, and that takes constant, conscious effort. Nobody is a born CEO, and there will always be room for improvement. Accepting that and making changes is the best way to make it happen.
Larry Alton is an independent business consultant specializing in social media trends, business, and entrepreneurship.