Attributes of a Successful CEO

Harvard Business Review has an excellent article titled What Sets Successful CEOs Apart. The authors talk about a variety of research where they distill down the four attributes that set successful CEOs apart from other CEOs. From the article, here are the attributes:

  • Deciding with speed and conviction.
  • Engaging for impact.
  • Adapting proactively.
  • Delivering reliably.

It sounds pretty simple but it’s incredible hard for a CEO to consistently do all four. Want to learn more? Head over and read What Sets Successful CEOs Apart.

What else? Have you worked for/with CEOs that had those attributes?

Talkative Tuesdays – Tuesdays as the Meeting Day

Back in the Pardot days, we’d hold most of our important weekly meetings on Mondays. This included the weekly tactical, weekly all-hands, and weekly company lunch. Timing wise, it worked well to start the week by aligning the leadership team and breaking bread with the entire company.

Only, Mondays proved a challenge for several reasons. First, holidays frequently fall on Mondays, disrupting the flow of the most important meetings (should we skip those weekly meetings or move them to Tuesday?). Second, Mondays are a great day to build momentum and set a pace for the week, but if 2-3 hours are spent in meetings, it’s hard to make as much progress. Third, Monday is a popular day for employees to take vacation as part of a long weekend. Finally, and most importantly, Mondays, especially Monday mornings, people haven’t had much time to get in the groove for the week and prepare for the meetings.

Now, I’ve found that Tuesdays are the go to day for the weekly meetings and know several successful startups that run all their meetings on Tuesday. It’s still early enough in the week to get everyone aligned, yet doesn’t have the holiday and three-day weekend issues. Plus the work week is in full effect.

Call it Talkative Tuesdays — the meeting heavy day of the week.

What else? What are some more thoughts on making Tuesday the day for weekly meetings instead of Mondays?

Weekly Update Email

One of my favorite communication strategies for entrepreneurs post product/market fit is a weekly update email to all constituents: employees, advisors, mentors, and investors. Initially, the email should be pretty simple and then expand as the company grows and departments are formalized. Here’s an example format:

  • Intro
    • Quick paragraph summary of last week
  • Annual Goals
  • Quarterly Goals
  • Quarterly Priority Projects
  • Sales
    • The top three weekly metrics for the sales team, or for smaller teams, the top three metrics for every person on the sales team (e.g. calls, appointments, deals won, new recurring revenue, etc.). By having every sales rep listed with their metrics, it provides transparency and peer-pressure to hit their numbers.
    • Comments or highlights from last week (e.g. the name of a big customer win or story from the team)
  • Marketing, Services, Support, Engineering, Operations, etc. (each has their own section, just like the Sales section)
    • The top three weekly metrics
    • Comments or highlights from the week
  • Culture Highlight
    • A story or example from the week that exemplifies the company culture and recognizes one or more people

Yes, it’s more work on a weekly basis. Yes, it’s a commitment. Yet, when done consistently, this weekly update email is one of the best techniques for an entrepreneur to increase communication and transparency in a scalable way.

What else? What are some more thoughts on the weekly update email?

The Coaching Habit ‒ 7 Questions to Ask

Last month I picked up the book The Coaching Habit: Say Less, Ask More & Change the Way You Lead Forever by Michael Bungay Stanier and I’ve enjoyed the author’s ideas. Generally, the pitch is that coaching should be simple and question-oriented: spend more time listening and less time talking (I’m a fan of that!). There’s a reason we have two ears and one mouth ‒ we need to listen twice as much as we talk.

Here are the seven questions to ask during each coaching session:

  1. What’s on your mind?
  2. And what else?
  3. What’s the real challenge here for you?
  4. What do you want?
  5. How can I help?
  6. If you’re saying yes to this, what are you saying no to?
  7. What was most useful for you?

Combine The Coaching Habit philosophy with a 1:1 agile performance management system like WideAngle and you’ll be in the top quartile of leaders.

3 Things Every Entrepreneur Should Do

Recently an entrepreneur asked what he should be doing to make his company better in 2017. I asked a few questions about the long term, the short term, and challenges right now. Quickly, it became clear that there were some foundational basics that needed to be done.

Here are three things every entrepreneur should do:

These are some basics but the majority of entrepreneurs don’t do them. Be among the best and follow these three best practices.

What else? What are some other things every entrepreneur should do?

The Daily Huddle

Over the years I’ve talked about the benefits of a daily huddle/scrum and it’s just as relevant today as 10 years ago. The premise is simple: get everyone together once a day and answer three simple questions:

  • What did you do yesterday?
  • What are you going to do today?
  • Do you have any roadblocks?

Pretty simple, right? This process is partly about the questions and mostly about connecting as a team. Between those questions there are a thousand nuances and details that come out. Connecting as a group is powerful, and communication is key.

What else? What are some more thoughts on the daily huddle?

2017 Simplified One Page Strategic Plan

Continuing with yesterday’s post Time for 2017 Budgets, it’s also time to get the 2017 Simplified One Page Strategic Plan ready. The goal with the plan is to align everyone in the company around a simple, straightforward document that outlines the most important things in a concise manner. Too often, the entrepreneur runs around with a number of great ideas in his or her head and doesn’t realize that everyone else in the organization doesn’t see what they see. Communication and alignment takes work; start with a simple plan.

Here are the contents of the Simplified One Page Strategic Plan (Google Doc template and example plan):

Purpose

  • One line purpose

Core Values

  • General – fit on one line
  • People – fit on one line

Market

  • One line description of your market

Brand Promise

  • One line brand promise

Elevator Pitch

  • No more than three sentences for the elevator pitch

3 Year Target

  • One line with the goal

Annual Goals

  • 3-5 annual goals in table format with the start value, current value, and target value

Quarterly Goals

  • 3-5 quarterly goals in table format with the start value, current value, and target value

Quarterly Priority Projects

  • Three one-line priority projects with the percent complete for each

 

That’s it — simple yet powerful. Check out the Simplified One Page Strategic Plan Google Doc template and take a look at an example plan. Good luck!

What else? What are some more thoughts on the Simplified One Page Strategic Plan?