Chief Executive Operating System (CEO-S)

In The Chief Executive Operating System, veteran CEO Joel Trammell and executive coach Sherif Sakr present a systematic guide to being a truly great chief executive. You will learn strategies for handling the peculiarities, pitfalls, and pressures of the job, gain tools and frameworks for building organization-wide excellence, and understand how it all fits together into a comprehensive picture of the high-performing CEO.

The Chief Executive Operating System: The Essential Playbook for Success in the CEO Role by Joel Trammell is classified as a business office team and skills type of book. I have read a lot of CEO type of books, and this one did stand out among them all, which I think is something that is difficult to do when there are so many other books writing on the same topic. I love the initial analogy the author gives about the book – “But once you get there, you haven’t summited Mount Everest – you’re only at base camp.” I also appreciate how this book focuses on a community of people to be able to be successful – it does not happen on your own, and you must work with and understand others to be a genuinely successful CEO.

Celeste L.

Whether you’re already a CEO, on track to become one, or just starting out, this is an interesting resource on what it takes to be a CEO (or any leader of an organization), along with the tools and skills necessary to succeed. Let’s be real. Most people who are promoted to higher positions are often ill-prepared for the role because they’re thrown in to the position not having held it before. AND, I will admit that I disagreed with the authors at the first chapter. “No one gets to the role of CEO without knowing how to work with people.” And with the companies I’ve worked with, that’s not necessarily been the case. In an ideal world, sure. But in reality, no. For many new CEOs, people-related challenges are the biggest concern (challenge, headache). But don’t let my disagreement stop you. Because the authors dig in. Offering a list of tools needed in order to become THAT CEO. The one everyone looks up to and who can achieve success. For me, this is strong addition to a senior manager’s (on up) library.

Leslie Obrien

In “The Chief Executive Operating System,” by Joel Trammell and Sherif Sakr, readers are presented with a refreshingly distinct perspective on the multifaceted role of a CEO. While many aspire to ascend to the zenith of their careers by achieving the coveted position of CEO, this book aptly likens the CEO role to reaching base camp on Mount Everest—a formidable beginning to a demanding expedition. Leveraging their extensive reservoir of experience, Trammell and Sakr meticulously construct a comprehensive playbook, illuminating the path to success in the CEO role. This is a terrain where specific guidance has often been scarce in the domain of management literature. The book skillfully navigates the labyrinthine intricacies of effective chief executive leadership, underscoring the unique skills and responsibilities that distinguish this role from all others. If you entertain aspirations of not only occupying but excelling in the realm of executive leadership, “The Chief Executive Operating System” is a must-read.


Too often “popular” business books over promise and over generalize. They lack depth. The academic books, on the other hand, have depth but are too often arcane and lack both practical wisdom and offer few to no diagnostic tools. This book offers much needed practical wisdom and helpful practices (what the authors call “a playbook”) for being successful in the CEO role particularly in smaller and emerging growth firms. Not a perfect book. It lacks “thick description” leadership examples and business cases. Also, their descriptions of practices like developing a 1-page strategic plan, running issue driven QBRs, topgrading talent, etc, are important but “thin” with no discussion of what is difficult in doing that work. Indeed, in my experience as an executive educator and a strategy consultant, the terrain is more complex than their map (playbook). Some content areas like Boards are treated superficially. That said, still much rich and useful content is here despite the limitations I note. Also, importantly, Part III of the book address “You”. It includes a summary of “6 essential skills of the CEO” and a short but thoughtful discussion of mindfulness and leading a balanced life. I found that more philosophical and reflective focus encouraging and helpful. Both this book and McKinsey’s recent book on CEO Excellence (McKinsey profiles CEO practices in large companies) are worth a read. Two very different books but both offering important real world insights into what effective CEOs do.

J.M. Ryan

The Manager’s Playbook

As the saying goes, people don’t leave jobs, they leave managers. Drawing on decades of hands-on practice, The Manager’s Playbook explores what makes a great manager and why employees never want to leave them. Understand what exceptional managers do differently, complete with real-world stories from workshops, the latest research, and tools and exercises you can use with your team immediately.

‘The Manager’s Playbook’ is a nonfiction self-help book for those entrepreneurs and self-employed people who care about their business and wish to be competitive. The literature is friends and informative. Above all, it is to the point which made the book all the better for its purpose. I recommend this book to those who appreciate tools to improve their business.

S.J. Main

I must admit, the book brought back many memories about managers (both good and bad) from my work life. Coming to the book and its content, it’s amazing to say the least. The fact that it comes from two authors makes the fact exciting that there is information from diverse backgrounds. The book has insightful and deep knowledge about managers, how they should work, manage people, and how you can become a good manager. The book also highlights a serious problem that organizations don’t work on managers’ training and development. Overall, “The Manager’s Playbook: Make Exceptional People Management Your Competitive Advantage” is a great handbook to become an efficient manager.

Ghulam Mustafa

To be a good leader or boss in a company is a real challenge. That’s why if you are a manager in an establishment or you are planning to become one, you need more than one source of information to be effective. Reading The Manager’s Playbook: Make Exceptional People Management Your Competitive Advantage by Joel Trammell was a very good experience for me. I am not really the type of person who loves to lead people but it’s good to know what are the things needed to be done just in case I will be put in a situation where I need to lead (ex: getting promoted at my job). The book was very systematic, well-explained and theoretical. I loved the way the authors were able to put some relatable examples as well. I will definitely go back to this book at some point.

Pearl A.

Being an effective leader necessitates having strong managerial skills. Trust is more important than charm when it comes to outstanding leadership, despite the fact that this may not appear to be the case in most large companies. In today’s world, it is all too common for leaders to be selected not on the basis of their competence, vision, or ability to motivate a team, but rather on the basis of their star appeal and alpha inclinations. There are a lot of charismatic people in top positions, but most of them aren’t very good leaders. This is something that far too many of us have noticed. They may have good improvisational skills, but they are severely lacking in both judgment and competence. They may be resolute, but they are blind to both the big picture and the details. A genuine leader brings out the best in others and leads by setting an example for others to follow. This book takes a fresh look at what it means to be a great boss and how great bosses help everyone win. It is an approach that is both enlightening and motivating. Highly recommended.


The CEO Tightrope

No CEO can find a point of balance and then stand still – that’s not even possible on a tightrope. The expectation is that the business must always move forward.

The American CEO walks a tightrope daily…many times blindfold and without a net. The job of balancing the often-competing interests of a company’s constituents is so challenging that the average lifespan of a newly minted CEO is around five years. Why is it that individuals who have been wildly successful at every other position in their career often fail when they get to the CEO chair?

Joel Trammell’s The CEO Tightrope is a wonderful book, not only about the balancing act needed to be a successful CEO but also about general leadership principles. The vast majority of the wisdom in this book works well for leaders at any level in an organization. I had the privilege of working for Joel for 7 years at his successful NetQoS venture and can tell you that the advice he offers in this book works in the real world. If you are in a leadership position at work, do yourself a favor and read this book – then put the concepts into practice.


I first learned of Joel Trammel as a prospect considering the Khorus platform for my business. As a long time technology leader, and first time CEO, I found the CEO tightrope to be wedged full of concise and useful guidance. I appreciate the broad and deep advice Joel is able to provide as a result of having gleaned the best on offer from an array of terrific books on a myriad of management theories. I look forward to applying the ideas Joel has shared with my executive team as we embark on our journey deploying Khorus in our business. I’m confident we will be a stronger and more effective organization through leveraging both the excellent material in the book, and the practical application of goal based objectives via Khorus. An excellent read well worth your time.

Bill Fitz

The simplicity of the combination of key points in this book, are simply phenomenal. I would recommend this to not just executive level individuals but also to every management team member and also to starting out entrepreneurs! Never have I highlighted so many points in a book! Never have I realized personal wins and failures as having them outlined in such a concise manner! Totally gifting this to every management or key team player I know!

Leigh Barnes

This book outlines the CEO role perfectly and gives anyone a foundation to start with or improve on. Awesome read.

Nate Anglin

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