How do leading CEOs execute quickly and effectively? By making sure their functional leaders are on board, in tune, and in alignment. Here’s how.
High-performance CEOs make sure that their functional teams have clear execution priorities.
Active vs. Passive: Why Active CEOs Win:
A new company strategy is a major disruption. It’s like a tidal wave bearing down on your functional leaders. Sweeping changes leave them struggling to get their bearings and chart a new course.
That’s why execution isn’t a task to be delegated. It’s a wholehearted mission to bring the entire company into alignment. Success requires an active, not passive, CEO at the helm.
Here’s how we distinguish the two.
Passive CEOs rely on occasional reports. They’re not intimately familiar or involved with functional organizations and operations. They can’t readily explain how their leaders contribute to the bottom line. And they often react to, rather than drive, changes in the marketplace.
Active CEOs understand and appreciate their leaders’ viewpoints and contributions. They commit to ongoing communication and cadence with and among C-level executives. They think and operate as a member of a tightly interwoven, synergistic team. They look for ways to disrupt the marketplace to better meet customer needs. Here’s a breakdown of the active CEO’s best-in-class approach.
Building a Cohesive Leadership Team:
Strategic innovation and execution should be organic, ongoing processes. Here’s how active CEOs make it happen.
1. Product Leader:
Ideal Scenario – The product leader works in unison with the head of product development. Through a next-generation lens, they continuously assess products and features available today. Innovation is driven by the customer, not the company.
CEO Best Practices – Give customer input the weight it deserves. (What’s working, what’s missing, what’s driving value.) Reps should continuously report what they’re hearing in the field. Have your product leader and product development leader communicate on a weekly basis.
2. Marketing Leader:
Ideal Scenario– The marketing leader is committed to building brand awareness. Creating a lead generation engine that drives the funnel. Informing customers about the company’s products in transformative ways. And, overall, serving the sales organization.
CEO Best Practices – Communicate with your CMO every day to understand his/her rationale, means, and gains. Follow the metrics: marketing-generated leads, sales-accepted leads, and pipeline opportunities. Review social media and press mentions and other PR gains.
3. Sales Leader:
Ideal Scenario – The CSO is in focused on building and driving the culture. Selling the process and programs. And managing his or her organization accordingly.
CEO Best Practices – Lean into your sales organization. Become your brand’s most ardent evangelist. Join your CSO in making high-level sales calls at the senior level.
4. Customer Service/Success Leader:
Ideal Scenario – Customer success—i.e., helping customers serve their customers better—is your service leader’s mission.
CEO Best Practices – Review churn and renewal rates with your service leader on a weekly basis.
Building a Successful Culture
Active CEOs share certain priorities and processes that promote collaboration, agility, innovation, and success.
1. Communicate Openly and Frequently.
Consider biweekly phone conferences to discuss status quo and strategy going forward. Meet in person quarterly to focus on the fundamentals of the business. Communication among top leaders should be frequent and free-flowing.
2. Be Inspired to Change—and Unafraid of Failure.
Among the most innovative and agile companies, mistakes are par for the course. Allow them to happen. As long as your team is collaborative and customer-driven, it really is okay to fail.
3. Hire A-Players Who Share Your Vision.
Look for the best and brightest people who are a good cultural fit. They’ll help build out processes and programs that will allow you to execute fully.
Use our Culture Awareness Test to make sure you have the right team members in the right roles. We’ve also included best practices to follow when striving for team/culture fit. Download the Culture Awareness Test document.
A best-in-class execution comes down to a common, clearly articulated plan across teams. And, more broadly, a synergy and cadence based on daily and weekly communication. By aligning their functional leaders, active CEOs lay the foundation for innovation and adaptation. And pave the way for continuing market leadership and growth.
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