Friday, January 24, 2014


When people ask me what I like best about being Dean, one of my responses is always, "I get to meet the coolest people in the world."  That was true again this past week as I was able to interface with three people who have held CEO and CEO-type positions:
  • Jim Koerschen, former college president and international school headmaster
  • Joel Trammell, who built, ran , grew, and sold several technology companies
  • Bob May, former Dean of the McCombs School of Business at The University of Texas
My conversation with each of them traveled many and various paths, but it always came back to the role of the CEO/President/Boss/Headmaster/Dean...whatever title one puts in front of people who are "in charge."  Today's blog is devoted to what these gentlemen had to share with me - and what we as leaders should consider in our roles, no matter the title - otherwise known as CEOisms...

  • You only get 18-19 decisions, because every decision upsets 5% of the people , and they are never the same people.  Once you get to 18, it's time to start looking for a new job, because at 20 everyone is angry at you
  • The role of the CEO is to communicate INTENT, not specific action
  • It's harder to say NO when you are flush in cash than when you don't have any money
  • You are responsible for ALL policies, whether or not you were there when they were put in place
  • It's one thing to manage or's another to COMMAND, because when you are the CEO, your decisions really matter (see The Art of Action)
  • Determine what it is that you can do BEST and what will bring "cache" to your organization
  • IMPACT comes with quality and numbers (growth)
  • When asking about goal completion, it's better to ask about COMMITMENT to completing the project rather than one's STATUS in completing the project
  • Make sure that when adding "things" to the organization that they add VALUE to the organization's priorities
  • Because they have the "position" to deal with conflict, CEO's do not need to be afraid of conflict on their teams
  • CEOs need to trust their people to make decisions and then back them on those decisions
  • Determine where your organization can be FIRST, and then make it happen
  • Transparency is key if you want to build trust and make things happen
  • Decide what is important, continuously pursue that path, make changes toward that end, invest in and resource those priorities, and develop structure that supports those ends
  • Help people in your organization make the shift from a "sales" focus (because numbers can be measured) to a "quality" focus in all aspects
As you read through that list, some will resonate with you - and others may not.  In fact, I hope that you disagree with some of them and post your thoughts below.  You might even have your own CEOisms to share.  Above all, it's time for each of us to put these into practices in our own leadership roles.  What can you do TODAY to make an impact on your organization and the people who work with you?

1 comment:

Ben Haley said...

I love your list except for determining what you can do best. Since a CEO almost always rises from a more specific focus (operations, sales, finance, engineering...) where they excelled, that is almost certainly what they do best. That is someone else's job now. If the CEO continues to focus on that are they undermine that staff member and neglect other areas.

Rather that focus on what the CEO can do BEST, look at what the organization can do BEST and set the vision to achieve that. Make sure the right team is in place and has the resources necessary to achieve the goal.