BrainTrust Query: So You Are a CEO – Now What?
Through a special arrangement, presented here for discussion is a summary of a current article from Getting Personal About Business, the blog of Zahn Consulting, LLC.
Corporate employees making the transition to being self-employed — perhaps due to layoffs, following their passions, starting a new business in their spare time to supplement their income or for any other reason — will often take great pride in referring to themselves as the "CEO" of a business. With visions of grandeur dancing in their heads, the new business owner will see themselves as taking their rightful place alongside luminaries like Richard Branson, Michael Dell, Donald Trump and others.
While the thought of having minions doing their bidding for them and being able to direct staffs to immediately react to any new opportunities is tantalizing, the reality of the role is very different. The chief executive officer role is less monarch and more of a cheerleader, often performing flips and gymnastics to solve problems, keeping people focused and motivated, and creating a vision for both customers and employees.
A recent article that appeared on the blog On Startups covered the topic well. The chief executive officer should consider him or herself to be the chief experience officer. The role is to transfer the passion and vision that they have for the company, products and services to customers, suppliers, and employees. The goal is to strive to create an experience that is superlative in all of the following facets of the company:
- Product – What is it the customer experiences when they use the product? How does the product add value to the tasks it is designed to address?
- Purchase – How easy is it to do business with the company? How intuitive is it to identify the right product needed for a customer’s "job" or reason for choosing the product?
- Brand – Does the brand align with the buyer’s lifestyle, image, interests, etc.?
- Post-sale support – After the sale, what is the feeling a customer has with the product, brand, company? Is it difficult to contact the company?
- Exit – When a customer chooses to leave and use a competitor, cancel a subscription or maintenance agreement, etc., are they communicated with to understand why or are they merely removed from the database?
- Employee – How are employees treated? Is it consistent across all levels (or regions, or functions) of the organization, or are some treated better/differently than others?
While being the CEO of a company may initially be thought of as the land of private jets, limos, fine dining, and hobnobbing with celebrities, the truth is that there is an awful lot of work that has to happen in the trenches.
- So You Are A CEO – Now What? – Zahn Consulting
- The CEO Should Be The Chief Experience Officer – OnStartups
Discussion Questions: What role should a CEO take on within an organization? What are the typical early shortcomings of newer CEOs?