The two side of a CEO: Selfish and Servant – Mark MacLeod

February 25, 2021 - Mark MacLeod

The two side of a CEO: Selfish and Servant

CEOs have an almost impossible job, facing a seemingly endless list of demands from their various stakeholders. To thrive, CEOs must be both selfish & servants. Something that has been coming up in my conversations with CEOs lately has been the need for them to take these two contrasting approaches to their roles.

On the one hand, CEOs must be extremely selfish. They need to organize their teams, priorities, workflow, calendars, etc. in order achieve maximum leverage and impact for themselves.

On the other hand, CEOs need to serve their teams. To truly & genuinely care about them and their needs + enable them to grow & succeed.

How can you be selfish and serve simultaneously? By removing barriers to moving quickly & ensuring maximum clarity regarding vision, mission, values and goals.

If you have raised capital for your company, then you have set yourself on a one-way path to deliver a (BIG) outcome. In almost any opportunity worthy of venture capital, it is more strategic and more valuable to get there faster. Momentum + growth are the magnets that attract investors, customers, partners, talent and, ultimately, acquirers.

Recognizing the strategic importance of speed, CEOs can best serve their teams by removing barriers to speed.

The best people want to learn, grow and advance their careers. Nothing will help them achieve that better than being part of a rocket ship.

Teams move fastest when they are clear on where they are going and why. CEOs can enable this by constantly reinforcing vision, mission, values & goals and connecting them to what teams are actually working on.

In addition, CEOs can help their teams + companies accelerate by narrowing the focus. While the ultimate vision may be very broad, the path to that vision is very focused. One segment, one channel at a time. As a startup, if you are an inch thick and a mile wide you won’t move very fast.

As a CEO, especially a founder CEO, you desperately want your vision to become reality. To get there, selfishly orient the company in a way that gives you maximum impact.

The biggest outcomes tend to be founder-led start to finish. there is almost a 100% correlation between CEO performance and company outcome (as an aside, this observation is why l coach CEOs). Given this reality, you can best serve all your stakeholders by organizing things to maximize your personal impact as CEO.

Paradoxically, a key part of this involves serving your team. Giving them complete clarity on direction and removing barriers to them moving towards that direction with purpose and speed.

Questions to consider

Am I clear on what I need to do in order to deliver maximum impact to my company?

What changes do I need to make to my schedule, work practices, routines and rituals in order to maximize my personal impact to the company?

What am I tolerating that prevents me from maximizing this impact?

How can I best serve our team and enable them to grow and succeed?

Is everyone clear on vision, mission and values?

Do they know how their individual role and work contributes to our overall vision and mission?

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