I am happy to have coffee with my CEO friend at their request. We met a month or so ago when they were really “stuck” in taking steps to prepare for the future while preserving the company during the current uncertainty.
We talked about the importance of strategy, action planning, resources, skills and incentives to achieve what she wanted to do. When we finished she really seemed to rise out of the fog. In fact, as we left for our last meeting, she said, “Thank you for listening to me and helping me clarify what actions to take and how to make choices with ROI in mind. I can’t wait to discuss it with my leadership team in two days. They will be thrilled that we are finally taking action. It was almost like she knew it she holding them back.
As we sat down with our coffee, she immediately jumped in with how she wanted to meet her team and start figuring out their strategy and so on, but can you believe this banking situation? That’s how she and the team discuss it, and the same with her key clients. She explained how she was consumed and before she could go any further, I laughed. Her face flushed, “What’s so funny?” She said.
“I thought you banked with JPMorgan Chase Bank?”
She said, “Yeah, I am. We moved to them a few years ago, so we’re in great banking shape and they’re going to be fine, and wow, thank God because can you imagine…”
I raised my hand.
I asked her, “What’s stopping you from attacking the game plan we discussed a month ago?”
She nodded, “I know, I know. I’ve never had to do this before and wonder if I’m up to the task.
See… Intent is not enough as a CEO and/or business owner. Action collides with it.
As an executive coach and facilitator, I realized that perhaps I was playing a role in this and, being her friend, I had a blind spot, so I stepped back and thought more about how to help her move forward more confidently. the way
Here are my thoughts that I shared with her and will share with any/all CEOs of SMBs who are wondering what is the best way to proceed.
First and foremost, as CEO you should be in the driver’s seat behind the steering wheel of everything. It’s worth having a professional facilitator who knows your space or works with companies of your size and scale.
I ask the following questions to decide how to proceed:
- Am I leading it or facilitating it, or are there other CEOs in my market that I connect with?
- How do I measure ROI?
Facilitators bring an outside perspective: A facilitator can provide a fresh perspective on your organization and its priorities. They are not bound by the same biases or expectations as your team and can help you identify blind spots or areas for improvement.
Facilitators can help manage group dynamics by: When a group is trying to prioritize initiatives, there can be many competing opinions and emotions. A skilled facilitator can help manage these dynamics, making sure everyone’s voice is heard and the discussion stays on track.
Facilitators can bring structure to the process by: Without a clear structure, priority discussions can quickly become overwhelming and unproductive. A facilitator can help design and facilitate a process that is efficient, effective, and aligned with your organization’s goals.
Facilitators can help achieve consensus by: It is important that your leadership team is aligned with your organization’s priorities. A facilitator can help build consensus and ensure everyone is on the same page.
Of course, bringing in a facilitator can be costly and may not be necessary for every organization. However, if you think your leadership team could benefit from an outside perspective, or if you’re struggling to make progress on priority discussions, it might be worth considering.
Peer Advisory Groups – There are many of them in every marketplace so it will take some time to explore the right fit for you but it will be worth it. I wish someone had given me that advice when I was CEO! When you join a CEO Peer Advisory Group, you will work with a group of people who are unabashedly committed to learning – people who dedicate significant time, effort and money to being regularly challenged by their peers, speakers and chairs. Service to become better leaders and better people. It doesn’t get any better than that. It’s the only safe, confidential place for business owners and CEOs to validate their decisions, identify gaps in their thinking, or get new and exciting ideas they might not have thought of on their own.
Photo from Chief Executive
When a CEO decides to prioritize some projects over others, it is important to measure the return on investment (ROI) of each project. In my experience, I make sure that my finance lead or CFO (depending on the size of the org) has this responsibility. We both talk about it and they help me decide how to measure ROI. Below are some things to consider.
Define the objective: The CEO should define the desired outcome of each project, such as increased revenue or improved efficiency.
Estimated Costs: The CEO should estimate the costs associated with each project, including direct and indirect costs such as labor, materials, and equipment.
Suggestion Benefits: The CEO should evaluate the potential benefits of each project, such as increased revenue, improved customer satisfaction, or reduced costs.
Calculate the ROI: The CEO should calculate the ROI of each project by dividing the estimated benefits by the estimated costs. It provides a percentage that represents the potential return on investment.
Prioritize projects: The CEO should prioritize projects with the highest ROI to ensure that resources are allocated to projects that are likely to have a positive return.
Monitor progress: The CEO should monitor the progress of each project and adjust priorities as necessary based on actual results.
When you’re ready (note the prep work below), I’d bring your team together and ask for the three most powerful words out there: I love you…
I need help.
Set clear goals and expectations: Before you can prioritize tasks, you need to have a clear understanding of what your goals are. Take some time to articulate what you want your team to achieve and clearly communicate those goals to your team.
Define what is important: Learn the big from the small and you will learn to be aggressively patient. (Move fast on some things, slow on others.) Once you’ve achieved your goals, it’s important to identify which tasks or projects are critical to achieving them. Make a list of these items and share them with your team.
Collaborate with your team: It is important to involve your team in the prioritization process. Hold a meeting or brainstorming session where everyone can give ideas on what to prioritize. Encourage open and honest communication to ensure all perspectives are heard.
Assign ownership: Once you’ve prioritized your tasks, assign ownership to specific team members. This helps everyone know what their responsibilities are and work is distributed evenly. This is one of the most important steps of all because it establishes buy-in.
As a side note, I also suggest checking out Patrick Lencioni’s new Working Genius Tool (see image above) because it does an amazing job of helping you and your leadership team identify your gifts as individuals and as a team. You’ll quickly see where some team members’ gifts aren’t being leveraged. A great story in Chief Executive magazine.
When you have the whole arrangement, it takes preparation and planning but, done well, you will get optimum results! Set a strategy (without you getting confused), set an action plan (start without mistakes), have the right resources (without frustration), make sure you have the skills/abilities (or you create anxiety and finally align incentives (you get only gradual change).
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