How to fall in love with your role
When I begin a new coaching relationship, more often than not, the CEO is overwhelmed and not fully happy with her role. If you let the CEO role happen to you, it is an impossible job. Too many demands on your time. There simply are not enough hours in the day.
Instead, you have to happen to your job. You need to bring your intention to it. You need to set the boundaries. In so doing, you will define a role for leading your company that is sustainable, that you love, that you excel at and that feeds you.
Sounds great! But, how do you get there? Follow the Five Rs:
Remove – Begin by removing tasks, responsibilities, processes, people, etc that bring you down or don’t add enterprise value.
Do you dread doing certain parts of your role? Could someone else do them? Can they be outsourced? Are they needed at all?
If you do a retrospective review of each day can you identify recurring meetings that no longer serve you or add value? Can an hour meeting be done in 30 minutes?
Are there people in your company, particularly ones that report to you, that you do not enjoy working with? If so, what does that tell you? Should they remain in your company?
Reinforce – After removing things, it is time to double down on what you love most. What are your super powers? What are you uniquely qualified to do in this company? What work puts you in a flow state?
Of these tasks, which ones most contribute to increasing enterprise value?
On the people front, which people, particularly those that report to you, are the best fit with your and your company’s culture and values? Who are your high potential stars? Can you give them more responsibility and more evenly share the burden of leadership with them?
Reframe – We only perceive the world through our subjective lens. If you think your day sucks, you are right. If you think it is great and that even hard days or set backs are just learning opportunities, you are right.
The exact same day seen through two different lenses will look like two different days.
Without fake cheerleading, can you reframe how you see your days and see the progress of your company in a more positive, energy-producing light?
I have found that no matter how hard my day has been there is always something to be grateful for. I have had a daily gratitude practice for years. And even in the darkest of days, I had gratitude.
Building something from nothing is not easy. Nor quick. Seeing the positive and being grateful for the journey will help you thrive and keep going.
Remind – It is easy to lose sight of the bigger picture. Why you started this company, what it means to you, your vision, mission, etc. Go back to this regularly. Visualize and get inspired by that vision you have.
Consider reviewing your vision and mission statements at the start of each day. They will be both motivating and focusing. The CEO has the ultimate 360 context for decision making. This is why you are called upon all the time. Reminding yourself daily of your ultimate vision and mission reinforces the context needed for big and small decisions alike.
Rest – The startup journey is a long one. We think exits happen quickly because we read about exits all the time. But, the fact is, if they happen at all, they take time. You won’t finish a marathon with a sprint pace.
The biggest exits tend to be founder-led start to finish. As a result there is more or less a 100% correlation between your performance and the company outcome.
Back when I was an investment banker, I had CEOs come to me regularly looking to sell the business because they were personally tired. The business was still working. Still growing. But the CEO was done. This is a shame, because there was still more value to be created – for everyone, including the CEO.
Don’t get to this place. Don’t get to the point where you simply can’t go on personally. Prioritize high quality sleep of at least 7 hours a night.
Repeat – Life is cyclical. This is not a one and done exercise. On some recurring frequency you will need to once again remove things that crept in, reinforce things that got lost or diluted, reframe your mindset, remind yourself why you are doing all this and, once again prioritize rest.
I firmly believe that if you follow these practices you will define, own and live a CEO role that is uniquely yours. A role that harnesses your super powers. A role that maximizes your ability to add value. A role that you can keep doing as long as you want.
I am under no illusions. It will never be easy. But it absolutely can and should be fun, rewarding, deeply fulfilling and something you look forward to each and every day.