How to Act Like the CEO when You’re Not
A coaching client said, “I need to think of myself as the mini-ceo.” He and his team manage a $2 billion year over year growth plan.
You don’t want to walk around like the CEO when you aren’t, but the term ‘mini’ doesn’t float my boat.
Stop acting like a blind mouse in a room full of cats.
How to act like the CEO when you’re not:
#1. Own your realm.
Taking ownership is giving yourself permission to make decisions. It doesn’t mean doing everything by yourself. It doesn’t mean acting without feedback and input.
Owners don’t expect others to make them whole.
Ownership is moving from paralyzing grievance to forward-facing motion.
#2. Set your goals.
Be a proactive goal-setter, even if you answer to a boss.
Don’t wait for instruction. Anticipate what’s next. Explain what you intend to do. (See, Passive to Active.)
#3. Don’t threaten higher-ups.
Embrace the attitude of a CEO, but avoid overstep.
You lose opportunity when you threaten the boss.
- Be transparent.
- Don’t play manipulative politics.
- Provide frequent updates. The appearance of secrecy creates suspicion.
#4. Serve six constituencies.
The six constituencies a CEO serves:
- Vendors and suppliers.
- Community at large.
- Stockholders and investors.
- Yourself. Tip: Never disadvantage others for personal advantage.
#5. Think big, act small.*
- Scan the terrain for opportunity.
- Consider medium and long-term impact.
- Get stuff done today.
#6. Spend time with medium-performers.
You can’t neglect poor performers, but don’t let squeaky wheels squander your time. Spend most of your time with medium performers.
- Give opportunities to high performers.
- Train and coach medium performers.
#7. Lead yourself.
Top leaders don’t burn the candle at both ends. (HBR/The Mind of the Leader)
Manage your time and energy.
- Get adequate sleep.
- Eat a healthy diet.
What concerns you about acting like the CEO when you’re not?
What does acting like the CEO look like to you?
*”Think Big, Act Small,” is the title of a book by Jason Jennings.
What concerns you about acting like the CEO when you’re not? Understanding their responsibilities, without previous experience may be a disaster. Acting and performing are two differenct options, which will leave voids if you chose to act other than perform. When we have control of the corporation, we have to be able to see all angles of the duties needed to keep the corporation flowing in a sense of daily accomplishments. Be prepared for the Cats are waiting to pounce on your blindness. If you haven’t carried the torch before the prevailing winds may put you out. (all those wanting to be in your shoes).
Excellent note, Tim, and to that point– perhaps the emphasis on “thinking like a CEO” is a vital first step toward “acting” as you learn to see what you missed or didn’t notice at first. This step of thinking big allows for the asking of advice, getting feedback as you own your realm, set goals, think big–eventually proving your ability to take more decisive action in larger capacities.
The CEO is making decisions that impact the whole organization. The mini ceo is making decisions that impact his department.
The mini ceo needs to make sure his decisions align with the company’s overall mission, strategy, and guiding principles.
Some mini ceos take action that helps their department but may hurt the overall organization.
For me, these concepts build on your earlier posts about taking ownership, perhaps being the ultimate expression of that process. Taking ownership of how your decisions and actions affect not only your own part of the organization, but how they impact the organization as a whole, that’s a “CEO outlook.” For the last sixteen years of my career, I was either a division head or a deputy CEO, under four different elected agency heads. Fortunately, they all encouraged me (and all of the command staff) to take that outlook, and it became a habit. It helped ensure we were all rowing in the same direction, and helped reduce unnecessary competition for internal resources among the operating divisions. We were clear about the authority we were given (and its limits) and within that framework felt the freedom to carry out our responsibilities autonomously. We spread that same ownership idea within each division, devolving decision-making down the hierarchy as far as practicable. Intra-divisional problems were usually resolved without the intervention of the division head. Inter-divisional conflicts were almost always worked out without involving the CEO. Within this system, “acting like the CEO” was very useful for us.
thank you for this post. #3 really resonates with me. Not to threaten higher ups may mean letting go ideas I am convinced are right or worked hard for pursuing.
Let me explain: As an IP person in a large corporation, I had strongly advocated for a product implementing this IP. I got strong support from the business line’s top management, in part to challenge the usual approach within the organisation.
So I did the IP related work taking into account new players entering the field and proposed some business strategy/ development after speaking to a handful of relevant people and an external partner to outline business opportunities.
Presenting these ideas to business middle management the buy-in was rather shallow. So, when presenting these concepts thereafter to top management earlier this week:instead of asking for an official project to be launched, I shared my concern that I don’t see how I could push further without becoming a challenger for middle management I have to liaise with on a regular basis.
This concern was understood but sharing it meant to let go of my proposal. Two days later it feels right to having let go. Although future of these ideas is unclear 🙂