Quick guide to CEO decision-making

Making decisions is such an integral part of the CEO role that I devoted an entire chapter of my upcoming book to it. For a quick cheat sheet to making good decisions, see my latest article in Entrepreneur: 10 Steps to Quality CEO Decision-Making

Don’t let corrupt businesses taint us all

The USA Today Editorial Board wrote an article yesterday – “Businesses Behaving Badly” – blaming business for the spread of anti-corporate views in the U.S. They write: “Much of their {corporate leaders} poor standing is the result of their own misbehavior.” I think this is a bit misguided and agree with the “opposing view” writer George J. […]

200 CEOs: We’re Flying Blind

My company Khorus just conducted a survey of 200 CEOs with 50+ employees about their main challenges, and the results are enlightening: More than 70 percent of those surveyed have previous experience as a CEO but still struggle to align employees to the corporate goals as well as capture and forecast company performance. The reasons? About half of CEOs blame one or […]

Think Like a Freak

“Think Like a Freak” for CEOs

I was recently reading the latest book in the Freakonomics series by Steven D. Levitt and Stephen J. Dubner titled “Think Like a Freak.” While I have enjoyed all the titles in the series, I think the latest one is the best for CEOs, as it outlines how to approach problems from their unique perspective. One of the constant challenges for CEOs is: “How do I get information from the organization that is as unbiased as possible?”

The #1 Team Killer? The CEO

In “The Five Dysfunctions of a Team: A Leadership Fable,” Patrick Lencioni provides a model for building an effective and productive team. What kills teams? According to Lencioni, it’s the absence of trust, fear of conflict, lack of commitment, avoidance of accountability, and inattention to results. Only the CEO can lead a team to top […]

How CEOs can get all employees on the same page

I recently wrote an article for The CEO Magazine called “Engineering an Aligned Organization,” where I actually do the math about how complex it is to try to manually align an organization with a few as 50 people. It is the CEO’s responsibility to ensure that every employee understands the company’s vision/goals and how those relate to their day-to-day […]

Best CEO of the 20th Century? I Like Ike

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Dwight D. Eisenhower, 1945 military photo

I am often asked who I look up to as an example of a great Chief Executive Officer. As I write this today is the 70th anniversary of D-Day. We all owe a debt of gratitude to all the individuals who made the ultimate sacrifice for the Allied cause. It just happens that my selection for best CEO of the 20th century would go to the leader of that effort and former President Dwight Eisenhower. While there are many worthy candidates, President Eisenhower performed exceptionally well in two of the toughest assignments anyone could possibly undertake.

The Six Recurring Hats or Roles CEOs Need to Assume

CEO roles

Last year I wrote a series of articles about the six hats CEOs may need to don at any one time in service to their organizations. I recently summarized the six roles for Entrepreneur in an article, which is republished in its entirety here.

Want help from your board? Present the right information

I have been in far too many board meetings that sound like infomercials: The CEO presents each department in the best possible light and never mentions any problems. This is pointless if you actually want help from your board.

Where There’s No Margin for Toxic Leadership

Originally posted on HBR Blog Network – Harvard Business Review:
Growing a midsized firm takes a top team with zero weak links.  Even one ineffective executive weakens a firm’s ability to address big problems. But building a consistently strong top leadership team is difficult for at least three reasons: the tendency to be loyal to existing…

Addressing a new CEO assignment with why, what and where

Every new leader faces the immediate challenge of how best to communicate his or her vision to the organization. Employees are anxious when there is a change at the top, so it is important to begin the communication process as quickly as possible. Unfortunately, new CEOs will likely not have had time to develop a fully formed strategy, so they must be careful to only communicate what they know to be true.

What are the responsibilities of a CEO?

I’ve covered this topic in depth on this blog, but if you want to read a quick summary check out my latest article for Entrepreneur: The 5 Core Responsibilities of a CEO As I mention in the article, it’s difficult to do the job well if you aren’t clear on what you are supposed to […]

“I love Khorus, yes I do.”

Originally posted on EXPAND & DISRUPT:
Joel Trammell is a man of many talents. For one, he’s a serial entrepreneur with twenty plus years of successful experience; launching a handful of tech companies like CachelQ, NetQoS, and Lone Rock Technology Group – to name a few. For another, he’s a wildly influential Austinite – offering invaluable…

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Why CEOs suck and how to suck less

It’s part of my mission every day to address this topic via this blog, my upcoming book, my company Khorus, and in many other ways. It is also the title of my proposed session at SXSW Las Vegas, which is summarized below. Voting for which sessions will be held during the conference ends tomorrow, May 9, so […]

Are you better at relating to employees or setting performance targets?

Most leaders tend to be better at either building relationships with employees or setting strong performance requirements for them, but the best CEOs and managers do both equally well. This is the focus of my latest article for Forbes – The Critical Balance CEOs and Managers Must Strike To Get Results – where I provide […]

CEO business strategy advice falls short on the “how”

Business literature is full of advice for CEOs and leaders on what to do, but sometimes falls short on the how. Case in point is this article published by SmartBlog on Leadership titled “What’s the plan?

Toyota’s move to Texas a good decision

A core role of the CEO is to ensure that the company has the proper resources to be successful. Most commonly people think of capital and people as the two primary resources needed. Related to the people side but sometimes missed by CEOs is their role in providing the best possible work environment to drive […]

By Peter d'Aprix (http://www.galleryhistoricalfigures.com) [CC-BY-SA-3.0], via Wikimedia Commons

CEO Fail: The Attila the Hun CEO

This next entry in my CEO failure modes series may make for compelling drama in the entertainment industry, but in the real world any CEO who exhibits dictatorial behavior is prone to mediocrity and failure.

“The CEO Tightrope” Is Real

Here’s a sneak peek of the book jacket proof for my book coming out in September. The CEO Tightrope has been years in the making, so it’s gratifying to see it finally becoming a reality! The back cover gives you a summary of what the book is all about, but in a nutshell it is a practical guide for current and aspiring CEOs based on my years of trial and error. My goal was always to become a CEO, so I started my own companies to become one at a young age. I’ve been disappointed at the lack of CEO resources ever since, so this book is my way of contributing to the literature and sharing what I’ve learned. More to come.

Bad hire? Blame the CEO

How much does a bad hire cost companies? It’s more than just money according to this infographic by Mindflash. Hiring the wrong person also causes lost time, productivity, and morale. The infographic also provides some suggestions for improving the hiring process. While these are important, one of the keys to hiring great people is to have a great recruiting process. This starts with the CEO, who in my mind should serve as the Chief Recruiting Officer.

CEOs should own recruiting and treat it as a core piece of the company’s strategic plan, not a tactical fire drill. Hiring right doesn’t mean taking your time, however. If your process is set up correctly, you should be able to hire someone within two weeks – that’s resume in hand to offer letter. Superstars won’t wait around for a company that drags its feet.

Also see a slide show version of this infographic at FastCompany.com.

Mindflash_1.24.12-01-2

What’s missing from the Mozilla CEO debacle commentary

I have read numerous posts and comments related to the “resignation” of the Mozilla CEO Brendan Eich. I feel compelled to comment on the situation as it raises an interesting issue that most of the commentators have not addressed: The relationship of a CEO to his employees.

Setting aside CEO egos can make 1 + 1 = 3

I have spent much of my career running businesses in the startup phase of their lives. In my mind, the startup phase continues until you are confident that the business can survive any normal risk scenario. The definition of normal risk could be debated, but most CEOs know the feeling when they make the transition […]

StrategicFitsmall

The tenuousness of CEO tenure

Recent research on U.S. CEO tenure varies anywhere from 5 to 8 years, but one thing is certain: CEOs have less time than ever to prove their merit. Part of the reason is market dynamism and the rapid changes taking place in businesses today. A CEO who was a perfect fit when he was hired […]

Software startup’s aim is to teach CEOs how to be CEOs

Austin American-Statesman article about Khorus

Thanks to Lori Hawkins of the Austin American-Statesman for writing this article about Khorus and our business management system for CEOs. Thanks also to our customer Scott Tynes, CEO of Consero Global, for interviewing with Lori for the piece and outlining his reasons for choosing Khorus. He sees it not just as a management system for himself as CEO, but also as a tool for fostering teamwork among his distributed employee base of 250. Check it out!

GM CEO Mary Barra Demonstrates Mastery of the Three Cs

Earlier this week I spoke to Entrepreneur writer Geoff Weiss for an article about how GM CEO Mary Barra is handling their vehicle recalls. I believe that so far she has shown mastery of the most powerful tools CEOs have to achieve top performance: credibility, competence, and caring (I call them the three Cs). As […]

How to avoid being a weak executive

Striking a Balance Between Yes Man and Doubting Thomas

In my latest article for Entrepreneur Magazine, I discuss what CEOs are looking for in their executives and how to avoid being a weak one.

CEO Class Starts April 4

Starting April 4, I am teaching my CEO class again in conjunction with the Rice Alliance Austin Chapter and the Austin Technology Council. The class is designed for CEOs with more than 20 employees who are seeking ways to grow via the right tools, people and processes.

Five management lessons from Ben Horowitz

Excellent article based on the new book by Ben Horowitz. Here are two related interviews with him: A Q&A With Ben Horowitz On His New Book, “The Hard Thing About Hard Things” (TechCrunch) The consigliere of Silicon Valley (Washington Post)

DILBERT tackles goals management

DILBERT © 2007 Scott Adams. Used By permission of UNIVERSAL UCLICK. All rights reserved. DILBERT © 2007 Scott Adams. Used By permission of UNIVERSAL UCLICK. All rights reserved.

I thought this DILBERT cartoon was appropriate to share after the launch of my new company Khorus a few weeks ago.

Photo Credit: lumaxart via Compfight cc

Sales should not be the only focus of an ops meeting

Why do so many people think the sole purpose of an operations meeting is to discuss the sales forecast? Focus on every part of the business and require forward-looking data from all.

Photo Credit: Marco Bellucci via Compfight cc

What’s the one question every CEO needs to answer?

Ironically, it’s one question that vexes CEOs, because they cannot get the information they need to answer it.

exit strategy

Answering the “Exit Strategy” Question

Originally posted on Shockwave Innovations:
You’ve just completed a great investor pitch with heads nodding and good interaction.  You’re about to ask “Does this opportunity interest you enough to explore an investment?” when instead you get a final question: “One final question.  What is your exit strategy?”.  Oops, the last two times you got this question…

CEOs need a system

We officially launched my new company Khorus today. The software product is a business management system for CEOs to answer the one question that concerns every chief executive: “How likely is my company to meet its corporate goals?” 

Will an aluminum Ford F-150 make Alan Mulally the CEO of the decade?

Commercialization: Aluminum Body on Ford’s F150

2015 Ford F-150 Reveal 2015 Ford F-150 Reveal; Photo Credit: Ford

I follow the new car and truck market quite closely. It is a very competitive worldwide market that must balance form and function. I have been a big fan of the work that Alan Mulally has done at Ford, but this latest move is a whole other level. Switching from steel to aluminum for a vehicle that is not only your best seller but also the best-selling vehicle in America is a huge gamble. It is the type of move that companies don’t usually make unless they feel they are on death’s door and have no other option. The “safe” play from one perspective would be to stay with steel, and if you wanted to try aluminum do it in a low-volume, higher-end model. The fact that Mulally could make this move shows a leader who has the confidence of his team and is providing real leadership. My guess is that it will be a homerun for Ford and in my mind cement Mulally as CEO of the decade.

Why CEOs have power but lack influence

Entrepreneur.com just published an article I wrote titled “How Leaders Can Find Their Mojo.” Whether they admit it or not, many chief executives feel powerless in their organizations. Oh sure, they have power: They can hire and fire, acquire companies, reorganize whole divisions, change the company strategy, etc. But once an organization gets beyond 20 […]

How to set corporate goals in 2014

I’ve done a couple of Webinars recently to show CEOs and other executives how to set goals for their organizations. This is one of the keys to success in any company. The bigger your organization gets, the more disconnected your employees will become from the big picture strategy if you don’t do something formally to […]

Employee engagement counts

OfficeVibe has created this infographic about employee engagement based on a bunch of stats that support what I’ve been saying on this blog for awhile: Employee engagement is low in general across U.S. companies, money is not a chief motivator if you pay market value, people leave bosses not companies, engaged employees perform better, etc. For CEOs, ensuring that your employees are engaged should be one of your top priorities. One way to do this is to own the vision and make sure that everyone in the company – from entry level to executives – understands the corporate goals and how their day-to-day activities contribute to those goals.

10 Shocking Stats About Employee EngagementInfographic crafted by Officevibe, the corporate team building and employee engagement platform.

The three roles of private company boards

In my last post, I wrote about some red flags when choosing board members for early stage companies. Understanding the function of private company boards will help CEOs select the right members as well as help those board members to offer the right value. Here are the three roles that I think board members serve […]