To be great the modern CEO must have tremendous influence over their organizations while in some sense seeming to do very little. How CEOs should spend their time has been the focus of my series on the Six Hats of the CEO. Which roles should you spend the most time in as a CEO? Here is some advice from Jim Schleckser, CEO and Managing Partner of the Inc. CEO Project and creator of the research on which I based this series.
The definition of a high-leverage role, according to Jim, is one that continues to pay off on your investment of time. It makes a permanent – and positive – change to the business. The trick is to spend as much of your time in these roles as possible. Otherwise, you may cause your company to stagnate.
Here’s a quick summary of each high-leverage CEO role:
Architect: Designing the business model. This is the foundation for the entire business.
Engineer: Building the systems and processes that grow the business.
Coach: Working with employees to get the maximum value from the team.
Player: Doing work where you can make a difference at a discrete point in time: Helping close a sale, for instance.
Learner: Expanding your knowledge both inside and outside the business.
Priest: Keeping morale high. (This role is my contribution to Jim’s work)
Which are the highest value roles? Architect, engineer and coach are very high value, because they set the stage for the continued growth of the business. CEOs should spend at least half their time in these three roles, depending on where the business is in its evolution. As Jim states in his paper titled Five Hats: The High Leverage Roles of a CEO: “Really excellent CEOs spend 35-50 percent of their time in a high leverage role by minimizing all other activities.”
No more than 40-50 percent of a CEO’s time should be spent on tasks not associated with one of these six roles. Jim says other tasks “…simply don’t give you the kind of return on your time that you need or, quite frankly, that your business can afford.”
Here’s more from Jim on high-leverage CEO roles: