Rating your CEO leadership skills

Sandler Sales Institute owner and trainer Chris Jennings recently presented a terrific best practice workshop for Sales and Sales Management for my CEO Advisory Board. He began his remarks with a ten point test to assess the level of sophistication among the attending CEO members. This simple test got everyone’s attention. Needless to say, the members discovered there was plenty of room for sales improvement in each of their companies. Chris went on to deliver a terrific and impactful best practices that would improve sales effectiveness across the board.

This test gave me an idea. In the course of a year’s meetings, Vistage members are treated to a host of amazing experts and leaders who as guest speakers recommend ways to improve leadership and management effectiveness. The Vistage mission is geared to get extraordinary results for its members that are far more than they would have imagined possible. This blog summarizes some of these leadership practices.

This blog will continue in coming weeks with a series of posts describing these best practices in greater depth. I will summarize what we have learned over the past five years in our CEO Advisory Board sessions and with our guest speakers. Continue reading

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New Year Resolutions vs. Focusing on What Matters

I love the holidays especially with some extended time with family members. Each year after Christmas as we all do, I spend some quiet time alone organizing my New Year’s resolutions. Don’t you love it when you start listing all of the things you feel you need to do to get back on track. With software, I can even track my goals and objectives in an endless variety of apps with my due dates.

After talking with several of my CEO friends in the New Year, I realize how distracted we can easily get with these new resolutions, initiatives and projects. With this confusion as background, one CEO announced they have had an epiphany about their business model. Instead of trying to be many things to many types of customers, they are going to focus on one thing and one thing only.  This change in thinking may require them to sell off a product line that would only distract them from making any true progress in building the business. Focus and focus some more.

The lesson here is more about what you not try to do than what else you can do. Rethink your strategy and your underlying priorities. Narrow your attention on what really matters. Get your executive team is on the same page. Everyone gets three priorities for the next 90 days. What really matters?

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Internet Marketing tips from SEO/SEM expert Jason Lavin

Vistage regularly attracts amazing speakers to its CEO Advisory Group meetings. Last Friday was no exception my Los Angeles-based CEO Group 3709. Internet marketing expert and Vistage speaker Jason Lavin was best ever with his remarks on Mastering your Web Master or the Ten Things to Tell Your Webmaster tomorrow. Jason leads with SEO and SEM but covers much more.

This technology centric group prides itself when in comes to web-based business models. Members are pretty sophisticated when it comes to anything related to software and the Internet in their business models. Jason covered more than a dozen topics on improved Internet Marketing geared to amp your flow of qualified leads. Jason kept a quick pace during his afternoon remarks. To prepare for the session, Jason reviewed the web site of each member. He was impressed with what he had found. Nonetheless, he brought plenty of fresh ideas that would improve the intent and purpose of your company’s web site, namely to attract more even more leads. Members heads were spinning with the possibilities. Continue reading

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Filed under Best practices, Executive Development, Leadership, Management, Metrics, Productivity, Strategy, Team Development, Teamwork

Mid-year performance review? What is working and what needs improvement? What about your leadership performance?

You might be just getting your financial results for the six months ended June 30, when you read this post. As you consider the mid-year revenue and expense variances with the plan or your forecast, you might also reflect on your personal leadership performance with a similar variance approach.

Start by making a list of what were the more important company and personal accomplishments. What decisions turned out as expected or better. Stay with the pluses for this page. Identify favorable business decisions such as successful new hires, various programs implemented on time, timely product upgrades released or produced, critical contracts or engagements implemented, important new customers or major customer renewals. You get the picture. Use this list to appreciate the positive results in the business. This is where you smile with gratitude!

Now start on new page and list the disappointments, the negatives, the various aspects of the business that remain a work in process, e.g. longer selling cycles, failed marketing programs, missed bids or prospects lost to competitors. This list represents needed improvements in the coming six months. These are the deltas.

Share this plus/delta exercise with your executive team. Get their input on both a personal level and a company level. Ask for their pluses and the deltas. Transparency and honesty are required values. This exercise is also a good way to update or adjust priorities for the second half of the year. In addition, use this exercise to revise incentive compensation objectives to refocus activities and effort on the improvements that will matter in the second half. Some of these goals or objectives are no longer as critical to future success as they might have been six months ago. Continue reading

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Filed under Best practices, Dashboards, Executive Development, Leadership, Management, Metrics, Planning, Productivity, Teamwork, Time management

Recruiting strategic advisors

We all realize that CEOs need more time playing the role of ambassador for their companies. This means spending time with customers and suppliers to maintain personal and business relationships. CEOs too often lose too much time micromanaging products or process. Not enough time is devoted to fresh thinking and perspective, looking for new ways to improve the business. Successful CEOs spend time talking to industry people who can stimulate their strategic thinking. Continue reading

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Filed under Best practices, Executive Development, Leadership, Management, Planning, Strategic Partners, Strategy, Team Development

What is Working for Your Company

In one-to-one meetings with CEOs running growing businesses, I have noticed that the best performing companies share a few best practices. Here is a brief list of several to consider using in your company.

Guy crossing chasm to dollar sign

First, company culture and corporate values really do matter.  They must be part of the firm’s image, easy to remember and visible to everyone. They are starting to appear on office walls as reminders. Everyone on the leadership team must model these values and recognize employees for behavior that reflects these values.  Acknowledging employees for their performance works for everyone. Continue reading

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Promoting teamwork with your Daily Huddle

CEO ROLESMuch is written about the critical roles CEOs must play in building their companies. We have described the importance of vision-based leadership, where the CEO leads by communicating a clear business vision and the underlying mission. Successful CEOs create a culture of accountability and alignment so each team member is working to achieve a clear set goals and objectives. However, the execution process often gets bogged down with irregular meetings that accomplish little. Managers meet weekly only to know they will attend even more time consuming monthly meetings. Agendas and minutes also take time to prepare and even longer to read and digest. Continue reading

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Filed under Best practices, Dashboards, Executive Development, Leadership, Management, Metrics, Planning, Productivity, Team Development, Teamwork, Time management

Your financial model should be your dashboard

Business planEvery CEO relies on a financial forecasting model with various degrees of frustration. Reasons for failure are many and varied.  Most financial models are designed by someone with a financial or accounting background and emphasize financial results and ignore key forward looking operating metrics. Many models get too complicated and can only be updated by its designer, often the financial expert. Complex rear-view facing models diminish the model’s value to your management team. If the team is not involved in building the model, they are not going to use it. Continue reading

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Filed under Best practices, Dashboards, Leadership, Management, Metrics, Models, Planning, Team Development

Building a Talent Pipeline

Team meetingOne issue that keeps coming up in conversations with CEOs is the fact that finding good talent is difficult. Once they are hired, experienced business leaders know that they must retain talent with respect, training and compelling opportunities to build their careers. Continue reading

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Why would I join an executive peer group?

vistage-advantage-groupHow would a peer group help you? Why would I join a peer group? The concept goes back to Napoleon Hill’s iconic book on personal development, Think and Grow Rich. He urged his readers to organize a Master Mind Group for inspiration, guidance and accountability. The Vistage founders followed this advice. Today each Vistage group is led by a facilitator or chair who oversees the group’s interaction and discussion. Continue reading

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Filed under Best practices, Executive Development, Leadership, Management, Planning, Strategy, Team Development