A little change of pace on the blog today. Like many of you I have spent a fair amount of time on the road during my career, and I am often surprised by what I find in hotel rooms. Specifically, I’m usually confronted with a set of minor annoyances that make spending time on the […]
I don’t agree with the pretext of this CNN article that “of course all presidents lie” and that it is necessary for the job. Since I believe strongly that credibility is a key part of leadership, I think it is dangerous to make claims that lying is integral to the job. Credibility is a binary judgment […]
Today is the 150th anniversary of the Gettysburg Address. As you may know, Lincoln was not the keynote speaker that day: Edward Everett, an orator from Massachusetts, spoke for more than two hours immediately before Lincoln. This was not unusual for the time, and Everett was considered a great speaker. Yet his involvement in the […]
Microsoft has finally abandoned its ill-conceived performance review system that pitted employee against employee. It would be easy to conclude from this that rating employees is a bad idea. Nothing could be further from the truth. The problem at Microsoft is that performance ratings were tied directly to pay. So when the manager was saying […]
I was recently reminded of how important a single personnel decision can be. I traveled to San Francisco to make a presentation on behalf of a non-profit organization I’ve worked with for a couple of years. With non-profits, just as in for-profits, it is critical to get the right people in the right places. While […]
On this Veteran’s Day I am reminded that my first exposure to a really good leader was in the U.S. Navy. I accepted an officer commission to the Navy while still in college, which committed me to spending four years teaching at Naval Nuclear Power School (NPS). The commanding officer of NPS was always a Captain […]
Governor Chris Christie, R-N.J., was re-elected as New Jersey governor in a landslide victory last night. His crossover appeal to independents and Democrats has lessons for CEOs. An article in Business Insider titled DEAR REPUBLICANS: Here’s How To Not Be Hated By Minority Voters listed four reasons for his popularity: “They like and trust him […]
I found this article from Aileen Lee fascinating: Welcome To The Unicorn Club: Learning From Billion-Dollar Startups. She looks at the 39 U.S.-based tech companies founded since January 2003 that have reached at least a billion dollar valuation in either the private or public markets. While the whole article has many interesting points, I want […]
In the summer of 1984 I was lucky enough to participate in a church youth group trip to Rome where Mother Theresa was scheduled speak to an assembly of all the youth groups from the U.S. At the time I was 18 and while I had certainly heard of Mother Theresa, I didn’t know that […]
“Learning is not compulsory but neither is survival.” W. Edwards Deming
Whether the result of ignorance, hubris or both, it is easy as a CEO to get trapped into thinking that you should have all the answers. But that’s a sure way to stagnation. It is critical to your long-term success to build a cycle of continuous improvement into your corporate and personal development. In my newest Forbes article today I provide a list of 10 ways CEOs can continuously improve their performance.
Some of the items may seem simple – read some books, write some content, gather feedback – but you’d be surprised how many CEOs do not make the time for these things. Special thanks to my friend Mike Hawkins at www.alpinelink.com, where I got the basis for this list.
With so many things on a CEO’s plate, how do you find the time to get better? The real question is: How can you afford not to?
I know a senior manager at a large company who did not meet his direct manager for 18 months due to a travel ban. Finally, the ban was lifted and he made the trek to corporate headquarters to meet his boss. One hour after meeting with him an announcement came out reorganizing the senior manager […]
As I mentioned in my most recent post – The budget is set so no brilliant ideas until next year – in many companies budgets are often the only strategic, tangible plans that lower-level managers and employees are exposed to by management. While the company may have some lofty mission or vision statement, those platitudes are […]
In his latest column - “Starting and Finishing” - Fred Wilson writes about the different skill sets needed to found a company and then to build the business. Many times the founder is not the person to take the company to the finish line. As Fred says, “The skills that get you from idea, through initial product, past product […]
The subject of my latest article for Forbes.com is what CEOs should study outside of traditional business education that will help them succeed on the job. I started this blog because I believe there is a lack of training and development to help people prepare for the specific challenges of the CEO role. I think focused […]
Monkey See, Monkey Doomed One day a researcher put five monkeys in a cage. In the middle of the cage he placed a ladder that provided access to a string of bananas he had tied to the top of the cage. The monkeys quickly realized the only way to reach the bananas was the ladder. […]
One of my favorite bloggers – Fred Wilson of A VC – wrote an article back in January called “The Fiscal Mess: Death By A Thousand Cuts.” As I look back on this post, it reminds me of several decisions I made as CEO. At the time of the sequester, everyone claimed that if it went through the economy would tank and we would plunge back into recession. Now six months later the effects of the sequester appear minor at worse.
Many times when I had to make significant cuts in the budget based on economic conditions, I worried what the impact on the company would be. Each time – in hindsight – I was surprised how small the impact was, and in some cases it even made the company better. Don’t let fear of the future stop you from making the necessary decisions in a timely manner.
What is The Most Dangerous Secret of Corporate America? Writing for DailyWealth.com, Paul Mampilly puts it bluntly: Many CEOs aren’t good at their jobs. And some of them are morons. Based on his 20-plus years of experience as a portfolio manager and stock analyst, Paul says that: Great CEOs are no more common than great baseball players. Think about […]
During my CEO decision-making series, I’ve talked about how to thwart the four villains of decision-making and 10 rules to live by, but what do you do when you are in the heat of battle and decisions are lobbed onto your desk? Something that I have found helpful is to have a “triage procedure” where […]
Anniversary of the Great Recession: What’s Changed, What Hasn’t I’m quoted in this article written by Geoff Williams in U.S. News & World Report today about the five-year anniversary of the Great Recession. I remember the failure of Lehman Brothers like it was yesterday. Within a week all our business metrics at NetQoS began to turn […]
As I wrote about recently, one of the main responsibilities of a CEO is to make good decisions. This is easier said than done of course. I will spend the next few weeks discussing the elements of good decision-making. One key consideration is which decisions should the CEO be responsible for in the organization? Command […]
Too many CEOs seem to believe they are in charge of an espionage operation instead of running a company. Having spent my first four years out of college teaching at the Naval Nuclear Power School, I understand the need for secrecy in some cases. Obviously, the information we taught was quite sensitive, including details about […]
In my latest article for Forbes.com - How Do You Evaluate CEO Performance? 6 Ways To Grade The Chief - I discuss a scorecard I developed to help corporate boards objectively evaluate CEO performance. Boards can be one of a CEO’s few sources of direct feedback, but many board members do not know much about the CEO role or how to provide formal input. The scorecard categories correspond to the responsibilities of the CEO that I’ve discussed on this blog and provide a way for boards to give consistent, structured input to the CEO. Check out the article and let me know what you think.
Here is a demographic breakdown of CEOs hired in 2012, from Booz & Company’s 2012 Chief Executive Study. Who are these leaders, according to the report? “For the most part, they are familiar faces: Companies promoted insiders (people already at the company) 71 percent of the time—and a quarter of all new leaders had worked at the same company for their whole career; 81 percent of new CEOs were from the same country where the company’s headquarters was located; and 95 percent were men.”
Some companies, if you wanted to put it into a single word, they have a conqueror mentality, and we have an explorer mentality. And the people who like our mentality of exploration and pioneering, they tend to stay here, and have fun here, and that’s self-reinforcing. Jeff Bezos, Founder and CEO, Amazon In the wake […]
As I prepare to publish my own book about leadership next year (The CEO Tightrope), I thought I would share this recent gem from DILBERT. Yes, Scott Adams has a point (Doesn’t he always?). In particular, I think there are few good resources for CEOs out there, so I hope my contribution based on my […]
Over-confident CEOs can put companies at risk, research shows CEOs need to demonstrate strong leadership and good decision-making skills, but CEOs with over-confidence can involve their companies in riskier ventures and put investors’ funds at risk, according to a new study from the University of Missouri, Georgia Tech University and the University of Texas-Arlington. One […]
21 Bestselling Books Written By CEOs CEO.com recently published this list featuring books by everyone from Bill Gates to Richard Branson to Martha Stewart. While it seems that every CEO writes a book nowadays, many of these are worth reading. Here are my favorite business books from the “Business Book Hall of Fame” on my […]
Meg Whitman Has A Few Questions For You Hewlett-Packard’s chief executive officer, Meg Whitman, seldom tells people what to do. She just keeps quizzing them until the path ahead is obvious. People who know her well say that persistent queries have been a personal hallmark since her days as a Bain consultant two decades ago. […]
This week in The Wall Street Journal blog “The Accelerators,” Brad Feld and Steve Blank wrote articles taking opposing sides about when early stage founders should start developing their boards. Steve Blank advises against giving away board seats too early and instead concentrating on building an advisory board, which has less power and fiduciary duties. This way, the founders don’t give up too much control too quickly but still receive the benefit of professional advice from experienced people.
On the other hand, Brad Feld advises founders to start creating their boards as soon as possible. The legal responsibilities of board directors make the position more serious, strengthening their commitment to the company. He says this influence can be “transformative” in helping to build the company and raise money.
In general, I agree with Brad on this. What neither one mentioned is something that I think is critical: Board terms for at-large members at early stage companies should be one year and require unanimous approval of the other board members to renew. As Brad states, different stages require different types of board members. Typically, if the board term is not set, it is very awkward to try to remove someone who is not adding value.
I often talk with young entrepreneurs who are struggling to raise money to keep their startup going. They are typically high achievers who have never failed at anything in their life. I often joke that running out of money isn’t failing: Failing is raising $100 million and turning it into $0. The funny part about capital is that having too much can be a problem just like not having enough, as Seth Levine says in this blog post. There is an optimum amount of capital for pursuing a given market opportunity. If the market is still developing, then additional capital is often wasted – or even worse: It causes the company to lose focus and pursue many different markets. The CEO’s job is to provide the right amount of capital at the right time.
Lululemon CEO Christine Day Is Stepping Down There are many different ways a CEO can lose his or her job, and in this case it looks like quality control was the driving issue (the retailer had to recall 17% of its black luon yoga pants for being too sheer). I don’t know Christine Day, but […]
Do You Publish Your Board Book To Your Entire Company? In this recent blog post, Brad Feld revealed his benchmark for CEO transparency: Sharing the information you give to your board (usually quarterly) with your entire company. He says, “If you can’t be open with your company about the information you report to your board, […]
The National Business Research Institute (NBRI) researched common themes across 20 of the highest profile CEOs to create this interesting infographic: