It's Not What You Do, But How You Do It

04/16/2015 05:57 pm ET | Updated Jun 16, 2015

CEOs make a lot of decisions, announce them, and then expect everyone to be on board and execute flawlessly. If only it were that simple. We often find our decisions are not implemented properly, flawlessly, or on time, and we can't figure out why. Sometimes, it's because we are too low-key. CEOs need to start making a big deal out of tasks they normally consider mundane.

Making a big deal goes a long way

When I was in sales, I used to have a boss who understood how to make a big deal out of our achievements. When a salesperson closed a major deal, instead of handing him a commission check and telling him his quota would be raised next year, my boss would bring the salesperson into his office - along with everyone at the company HQ - blow an air horn, throw real cash at him, and let him ring a brass gong that was kept only for special occasions.

The entire office applauded, and we Champagne-toasted the successful salesperson. You can bet the salesperson and the other employees never forgot the extravagant office party over his closing a huge sale. I sure didn't. My boss' grandiose celebration of my co-worker's achievement served as motivation for the rest our team. We were willing to work hard for the same type of recognition.

Another example was when I coached a CEO who planned to promote an employee for his exceptional service to clients over the years. This CEO was going to bring the employee into his office, tell him he was going to be promoted, and then cover what would be expected of him in his new role. That's such a boring anti-climactic event. Instead, I recommended that he refrained from telling the employee, and at the next all-hands meeting, announce they have a new VP of development, and call the unsuspecting person to the stage. The promotion would be a corporate event, and everyone would hear it at the same time. Talk about excitement and fun!

So you see, as CEOs we can do a lot of things, but we need to understand that it's not what we do, but how we do them that really makes an impression.

Mike Harden has developed exceptional depth and breadth of knowledge over his 40+ year career as an entrepreneur, executive, teacher, mentor and coach. Today, as one of DC's premier Executive Coaches, Mike helps good executives become great leaders. Contact Mike for an executive coaching session.