The CEO Growth Roadmap - Mark MacLeod

December 4, 2020 - Mark MacLeod

The CEO Growth Roadmap

As a founding CEO, as soon as you raise capital, you commit yourself and your company to a one-way journey towards (hopefully) delivering a massive outcome.

When you look at the biggest outcomes, they are almost always founder-led, start to finish. Thus, there is a high (almost 100%) correlation between founder performance and company outcome.

As CEO, your challenge and opportunity is to grow faster than your business. To always be ahead. Tobi Lutke, co-founder and CEO of Shopify states this clearly and humbly:

I have a new job every year, and I also have to re-qualify for my job every year. So I do make sure that my board and my employees think that I’m the right person to run Shopify every year because, again, it’s a new job and I will only be able to do a good job in it if I manage to do all the personal growing in the year before that is now required of this new job.

If you are to achieve maximum potential for yourself and your business, you also need to re-qualify for your role every year. If your business is scaling, then the CEO that delivered last year’s results will not be able to deliver next year.

The CEO Growth Roadmap

Just as your product has a roadmap, so too does the CEO that is focused on personal growth. Here are some thoughts on how to develop a growth roadmap for yourself.

Step 1: Understand the role of a CEO

Fred Wilson of Union Square Ventures described the role of a CEO as follows:

To set and communicate (over and over again….) the vision, mission and values

To build the strongest team possible

To never run out of money

Step 1 here is to grade yourself on each element. How do you rate yourself on each of these three areas? Be as objective as possible. Consider asking your management team/ board to also rate you.

Step 2: Understand the elements of leadership

This next exercise is one that can be done both for yourself and for your entire senior leadership team. Grade yourself along each of the elements of leadership:

Your ability to

Make decisions with incomplete information

Inspire loyalty and admiration from the people that report to you

Deliver results. Turning goals into reality

Build a strong & deep team (the people that report directly to you)

Build systems to ensure your company runs smoothly and predictably

Communicate clearly

Live the values of the company

Show up with high energy/ attitude

Be coachable and have a growth mindset

As with the first step, I encourage you to ask your team and board for feedback. No one can rate themselves objectively.

Step 3: Align yourself to your business trajectory

Now that you have a better sense for where you are today, connect the dots between this and the trajectory of your business.

For example, if you found that staff don’t consistently cite the same vision, mission and values as you would, what communication initiatives are needed to fix that?

What is your assessment of your senior leadership team? What changes are needed in order for them to deliver next year’s targets? Changes could be augmenting their skills, improving how the team works together, potentially replacing team members or adding new executives.

Does your business need to raise capital next year? Are you on track for this? Do you have the milestones needed to raise the capital? Do you have the team? The relationships, etc?

Go across each of your roles and each of the elements of leadership and look for opportunities and gaps.

What are your weaknesses? Do you fix them or surround yourself with people for whom that is a strength so that your weaknesses don’t matter?

Finally, consider important new initiatives or projects for the coming year and what changes you need to make to yourself and your organization in order to deliver them.

Step 4: Align the business with you

I believe that where many CEOs fail is when they try to be something that they are not. For example, the introverted, technical CEO tries to be the stereotypical charismatic motivator and speaker.

CEOs come in all shapes and sizes. You will thrive to the extent that you know who you are and double down on that. If you can align your business to your true self and your unique super powers you will be in the best possible position to deliver on your plans for the coming year.

What is your super power? Have you built a team and distributed responsibilities in order to maximize the potential of that super power?

Are you being your true, authentic self or are you ‘playing the part’ as CEO?

The final output of this exercise can be a one page plan like this where you list the key initiatives, etc that will enable you to re-qualify for your role and become the leader that will deliver on the goals of the coming year.

Photo by Mark König on Unsplash

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