For a CEO, constant improvement is an absolute necessity: without innovation, without improvement, you won’t just stagnate: you’re in danger of actually losing what you’ve managed to build so far. So how do you ensure you’re constantly evolving as a CEO? How do you get the best out of your team in order to build amazingly successful ventures? What common mistakes are you making that could be keeping you from achieving even greater success?
In this blog post, I’m going to share 3 common mistakes that CEOs make and how to overcome them.
Mistake no. 1: You’re not hiring the right people
One of the most important aspects of achieving greatness as a CEO actually has nothing to do with the actual CEO, but rather with the people they hire.
It’s easy to see why this can be a huge mistake to make; if you’re hiring the wrong people for the job – or the wrong people for your company – your company will lose both time and money. And perhaps even more importantly, your company won’t grow. Hiring and firing people costs you money, for one reason, and it also takes up a lot of valuable time, whether it’s the initial training that you need to do or the process of vetting and hiring someone new.
CEO Coaching International’s Mark Moses has built several successful businesses over the years, bringing in billions of dollars in revenue. Now, his latest company is all about helping CEOs and entrepreneurs become the best possible version of themselves.
In an interview for Entrepreneur.com, Mark says that there are 2 main factors that are keeping CEOs from achieving success: they aren’t hiring the right people and/or they lack focus. As per his advice, CEOs that want to keep growing and improving, need to figure out “who are the people that can take me where I want to go?”.
But it’s not just a question of hiring the crème de la crème; you also need to work with people who share your vision and focus and just as importantly, you need to empower them. When you hire someone amazing, then let them do what they know best and trust them to do their jobs well. Mark Moses, for example, started several businesses that he had no knowledge about; and yet, they somehow succeeded. The reason for that? The people he hired. They knew what they were doing and he had the courage to let them do their best.
Chieh Huang of Boxed is another CEO who truly recognizes the value of the people his company hired; his company brings in about $100 million a year and has hundreds of employees and yet…he interviews each new candidate himself.
The reason why he takes it upon himself to decide who is the best hire is because he only wants to hire people with “hunger”: people who truly want to succeed and who have a strong work ethic. In fact, as he puts, “without hunger, intelligence gets you nowhere”. In turn, he also makes sure to reward hard work and keep his employees happy and productive, including paying for his employee’s children’s college education or paying for his employee’s weddings.
Mistake no. 2: You’re not building a company culture
Following up from the previous point – hiring the right people for the right jobs and encouraging them to be the best they can be – another very important element is the company culture you create, the workplace environment and how your employees fit into it. Whether you’re a team of 5 or a company of hundreds or thousands of employees, your company culture is just as important. That’s because by working on your company culture you can build a working environment that suits your needs; but even more importantly, you can then find people that will fit well with your culture.
And that is important for one big reason: if someone fits with your style of working and loves coming into work, then they will not only generate better results but they will become more productive with their time.
If you’re not developing a company culture on the other hand, it can have the opposite effect: you can attract employees that aren’t the right fit for your company and will therefore never flourish. And hiring the wrong people will cost you and affect your ROI.
One of the biggest companies in the world, Google, places a great deal of importance on their company culture. As they put it, Google strives to maintain a “small company feel”; they have lunch at the office café with all the other teams, they strive to make sure that “everyone is comfortable sharing ideas and opinions” and “because we believe that each Googler is an equally important part of our success, no one hesitates to post questions directly to Larry (Page) or Sergey (Brin)…or spike a volleyball across the net at a corporate officer”.
This isn’t to say that every company should employ a similar culture to Google or else they will fail. Rather, it’s knowing who you are as a company and what you want to be and building that culture so that when you hire people, you hire those who will actually love working for your company.
Or, as Upshot President and CEO Brian Kristofek puts it, “being a great place to work is the difference between being a good company and a great company.”
Mistake no. 3: You’re not focusing on your main goal
As I mentioned earlier when talking about the importance of hiring the right people for the right jobs, Mark Moses cited lack of focus as one of the main things that can keep CEOs from achieving great success.
He’s certainly not the only one who thinks so; Mark Zuckerberg too believes that there are two important elements that you need to get right: “having a clear direction on what you are trying to do and bringing in great people who can execute on the stuff”.
When you’re not focused on your main goal, it’s easy to get distracted and overwhelmed – and that can affect your company and ROI.
We’ve already talked about the importance of hiring the right people, but what about focus? How do you ensure you’re focusing on the right things in order to achieve success?
Many CEOs and entrepreneurs are amazing innovators and they know – more or less – what the want to achieve. However, it’s very easy to get distracted and lose focus – even if you’re a millionaire or billionaire CEO with hundreds of people working in your company. It could be the shiny new thing that you simply want to pursue. It could be that you’re losing your passion and not giving your company or your products/services the attention they deserve. Maybe you simply have your fingers in too many pots at once. Or maybe, it’s the everyday distractions of our modern world that are keeping you from getting things done.
The reason itself doesn’t matter much right now; the problem is that you’re distracted from your purpose. And that is where many CEOs stop – and fail.
So what exactly does it mean to be focused as a CEO? What should you focus on to achieve even greater success?
Quite simply, your end goal: where exactly do you want to get? Figure out your end goal for your company and work exclusively to achieve that goal: hire people who will help you achieve it, build strategies surrounding your goal and eliminate unnecessary distractions (sometimes including new ideas that might sound amazing on the spot, but could keep you from achieving your main goal).
Some of the world’s biggest CEOs follow this way of working and thinking.
For example, Amazon’s Jeff Bezos puts a lot of importance on focus; as he puts it, you need to “be stubborn on your vision, but flexible on the details”.
Bezos had several ideas and visions that he wanted to implement, including Amazon Marketplace and Amazon Prime. He knew what he wanted to achieve – but he had to try several times to get the results he wanted.
With Amazon Marketplace, for example, he failed twice before making it a success: now, the Amazon Marketplace accounts for about half of all Amazon sales. With Amazon Prime, they lost millions in shipping revenue in the first year only to have the service gather millions of new subscribers year by year following that.
Being an amazing CEO is much more difficult than it might look like from the outside looking in. You’re not just the face of the company, you’re the driving force that needs to keep it all together and deliver better and better results, year after year. As per some of the most successful CEOs in the world right now, there are two main things that you need in order to be successful: the right employees doing the right tasks and clear, unwavering focus on what you want to ultimately achieve.
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