Long-standing CEOs almost universally say their number one job is to own and drive vision and values. At the same time, their common regret is not moving faster to get people in appropriate roles. Reflecting back, CEOs talk about how surprised they were by how lonely the job is, and both the positive and negative stress involved with being in charge.
They also realize the less they do themselves, the more they will be able to inspire and enable others.
- You can't run the company.
- Giving orders is very costly.
- It is hard to know what is really going on.
- You are always sending a message.
- You are not the boss.
- Pleasing shareholders in not the goal.
- You are still only human.
Further, they suggest the CEO must learn to manage organizational context rather than focus on daily operations, recognize that his position does not confer the right to lead, nor does it guarantee the organization's loyalty, and not get totally absorbed in the role.
In Justin Langseth's first CEO job as founder of Zoomdata, he is quickly learning to focus on vision and values, people, and what those people need to fuel their efforts.
OWN THE VISION & VALUES
Langseth's vision is for Zoomdata to "easily allow companies and people to understand data visually in real time." In an interview, he discussed how early in their careers he and others wanted to "work with people we like." Later they got excited by a "cool technical idea." But this time, as CEO of Zoomdata,
There's a unique moment that's going to radically shift this industry. I'm devoting my time and energy to the thing we're going to be known for...that can fundamentally transform the world, and make it something I want to work on for a long time.
His advice to other CEOs is to "Really make sure what you're building is reflective of what you want your life's work to be." It's hard to inspire others if you're not "deeply passionate and motivated" yourself.
INVEST IN THE RIGHT PEOPLE
Langseth is focused on "finding the right people, getting them in the right positions, setting the broad direction and then letting them go." When he founded Zoomdata, he identified the right people by bringing in 15 colleagues that he worked with previously as well as new people to offset the risks of group think. As a self-proclaimed technology geek, he misses the ability to dig into the technology, but he knows he must play other roles and let his team do what they do best.
FUEL THE MOST IMPORTANT EFFORTS
One of the big changes in Langseth's life now as CEO is the "fundamentally different feeling he has knowing he is personally responsible to his company stakeholders - investors and employees." He knows that he must lead the efforts to get the fuel they need to keep going. He feels that the burden of getting revenue and investment falls on his shoulders.
Langseth has raised $1.5 million in seed funding from 20 angel investors and has 16 employees. "It's like having 36 children - you're trying to turn them all into millionaires but you can't let them starve along the way."
This is an example of the heart of The New Leader's Playbook: BRAVE Leadership
We're all new leaders all the time. So remember all the time that leadership is about inspiring and enabling others to do their absolute best together to realize a meaningful and rewarding shared purpose. With that in mind, BRAVE leaders pay attention to their Behaviors, Relationships, Attitude, Values, and Environment - all the time.
Those basics always apply. They are always necessary - and never sufficient. The secret to success is to apply those general basics to the particular context you face - especially as a new CEO like Justin Langseth who is focusing on vision and values, people, and what those people need to fuel their efforts.
The New Leader's Playbook includes the 10 steps that executive onboarding group PrimeGenesis uses to help new leaders and their teams get done in 100-days what would normally take six to twelve months. George Bradt is PrimeGenesis' managing director, and co-author of The New Leader's 100-Day Action Plan (Wiley, 3rd edition 2011) and the freemium iPad app New Leader Smart Tools. Follow him at @georgebradt or on YouTube.http://hbswk.hbs.edu/item/6039.html