Executive Education

3 Performance Stallers That Could Cost Your Company Millions

We know from The McKinsey Report that the most powerful and sought-after title in business and is most influential than any other is chief executive officer (CEO). Along with that title are high-ticket and hefty performance responsibilities. Running a corporation is no easy task.  According to USA Today, eleven big-named CEO’s have stepped down this year. One of them was Harley Davidson’s former CEO, Matt Levatich, who resigned after the motorcycle company’s shares fell 46% since Levatich took charge in May 2015.

There’s no doubt that effective leadership impacts business growth. An organization that weighs heavily the importance of talent and education but fails to recognize individual and collective personal patterns is hurting the bottom line.

It’s when you as CEO are able to evaluate yourself and your performance objectively and accurately that prepares for both personal and business success. To do this you must recognize and master your performance patterns as a whole person, not solely who you are as a CEO of a company.

Who you are as a person includes both your good and not so good habits and behaviors.

Develop Performance Awareness

Brian Tracy said, “The true measure of the value of any business leader and manager is performance.” And in line with that, according to Indra Nooyi, “If you want to improve the organization, you have to improve yourself and the organization gets pulled up with you.”

With a plethora of responsibilities on your plate, it’s easy to get caught up in running the business and forget about running yourself. As you develop an awareness of self and how you perform in comparison with your values and ethics, you’ll be more self-conscious and a self-objective evaluator.

As CEO, it is essential that you become aware of the cumulative power of your counterproductive patterns that are arresting your best performance. If not, you will deplete your optimal functioning abilities that possibly can cost your company millions. Consider these three behaviors that can limit your potential and the potential of your company.

  1. The need to be right and to be heard.  You may be that CEO who feels the need to argue points to prove that you are right. In your mind it’s your privilege to pull rank, but actually that’s far from the truth. Breeding a toxic environment won’t work. A true culture of psychological safety is an environment where you are trustworthy and others are comfortable being open with their ideas.Sure as CEO you want to achieve results. But you may not model the behaviors that you want from your people. If you know that you’re wrong, admit it. Apologize of you have to. Ask yourself: Why am I afraid to be vulnerable?  How can I arouse deep respect and bring high energy into the environment? You begin by being even more mindful of how you impact others. How openly you model accountability and transparency will demonstrate how safe your people feel to do likewise.
  2. Avoiding conflicts and speaking up. Even the best CEOs sometime find it difficult to let people know what is expected from them. You evade bringing tough issues to the surface because having difficult conversations feel uncomfortable. Sure confrontation isn’t always comfortable. Yet, working within your comfort zone isn’t very effective either. Ask yourself: Am I afraid of holding people accountable to their milestones or deliverables? How am I stalling my own performance and perhaps that of my people? What are the consequences of my inactions and the costs to the company?
    Effectiveness is learning to take the risk out of confrontation by bringing issues to the surface in a way that doesn’t make people wrong.  It removes the unnecessary drama and intimidation and enhances next level performance.
  3. Accepting honest feedback.  Accepting feedback, especially from a subordinate, may be a hard pill to swallow for a CEO. You may even be reluctant to listen if their gender doesn’t fit your narrative. Trusting an authority figure is your preference. Refusing honest feedback from your people is deeply rooted in command-and-control thinking. Ask yourself: Am I willing to learn and grow or do I prefer remaining as I am? Am I covering-up or defending my actions? Can honest feedback leave clues for improving my performance?
    Receiving feedback is very effective in leadership. A Zenger Folkman’s study of 51,896 executives showed those who ranked in the bottom 10% in asking for feedback were rated in the 15th percentile in overall leadership effectiveness compared to leaders who ranked in the top 10% in asking for feedback were rated, on average, in the 86th percentile in overall leadership effectiveness.

If you want to operate an effective organization and reduce financial waste, start by identifying the causes of your personal patterns as they relate to structure and accountability. By becoming conscious of your behavior dynamics, you are aware of the implications of your reactions on the organization for which you are accountable.


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Deana Murphy, Ph.D.
Deana Murphy is author of The Lead2Flourish Effect (2021), a leadership performance strategist, applied psychology practitioner and a CEO-executive coach specializing in executive performance wellbeing. Deana Murphy is founder of DecisionLab Global and an opinion columnist for the CEOWORLD magazine. Follow her on Twitter or connect on LinkedIn.