The CEO Megaphone – Mark MacLeod

July 7, 2021 - Mark MacLeod

The CEO Megaphone

I often say that the CEO has the most important role in the company. The biggest outcomes are universally led start to finish by founders. This is not a coincidence. Your ability to scale as CEO is 100% correlated to your ultimate exit outcome.

Not only do CEOs have the most important role, but they also have the loudest voice. Whatever you talk about as CEO will instantly become a priority for your team.

On the one hand, this is good because it creates focus. You can bring your team back to what matters most. Bring them back to the main goal when they can’t see the forest for the trees.

The problem though is that CEOs switch context all the time. Often they are living in the future. If you are musing to your team about future products, future possibilities, this is what they will be thinking about.

While it is good (and necessary) for the team to have the overall long-term context, there is a risk of them becoming distracted.

CEOs work on a different altitude. The CEO works ON the business. Assembling the right team, pointing them in the right direction and giving them the resources they need to succeed.

The team works IN the business. Building product, selling product + all the other supporting functions. If your team is off dreaming about the future, there is a risk they will not achieve the current targets. This makes your desired future more of a dream and less of an inevitability.

So, what are you to do?

Future context is absolutely necessary, but it needs to be put in a box. Be clear about why you are sharing thoughts about the future. When done, bring the team back to today and reinforce the importance of current execution + current targets as prerequisites for getting to pursue the future.

Also, think about what you share and not share. Many startups + scale ups have transparent cultures. Overall, this is great. It increases trust, engagement and understanding. But there is a real risk of distraction. This can really impact results since speed of execution has a big impact on valuation

All else being equal, achieving something faster is better. If your company is VC-backed, then by definition, there are other VC-backed competitors pursuing a similar vision. Speed matters. Focus improves speed. Focus on execution excellence improves speed.

Yes, being able to connect the dot to long-term strategy is helpful. just be careful about loss of focus. Be careful about what you share with your team.

Questions to consider

When I share things with the team, am I clear on WHY? What strategic purpose am I looking to achieve?

Looking back, have I created more focus through my communications? Or less?

What types of communication have worked vs not? Consider asking my management team for feedback here.

Am I doing a good job of sharing long term thoughts strictly as context, but then refocusing the team on the current priorities?

Am I doing a good job of ensuring the team is focused on hitting current targets above all else?

Photo by Patrick Fore on Unsplash

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