A Blueprint for new CEOs

“Where visionaries can be good at persuasion, CEOs are good at wielding authority. Visionaries transcend organizations, resources, and current realities, while CEOs master them.” – Bob Metcalfe
When Tim Cook took over from Steve Jobs as the head of Apple, the expectations were higher as his predecessor was a legendary innovation leadership guru. When Jeff Immelt took over from Jack Welch as the head of GE, the expectations were higher as Jack Welch was rated as one of the best corporate leaders in the world. Hence, it is a challenging task for new CEOs to step into the shoes as new CEOs and especially when their predecessors were legends.  In fact, the job of CEO is a highly challenging one. The position of a CEO appears easy and rosy for spectators but it is not a cakewalk for participants. It is tough to survive and succeed as a CEO in this cutthroat competitive world.

First 100 Days for CEOs

The concept of the first 100 days in office is widely used in the world of politics. It is also known as honeymoon period in a country like India. It is the period of ‘make or break’ for CEOs. If they prove well they succeed or fail miserably. All stakeholders restrain from criticism as this is the time given for new CEOs to get adjusted and work at their own pace. Even media will restrain from criticism but it observes everything under microscope. Hence, the new CEOs must be careful to make use of this time to connect with all stakeholders and create a great impression to survive and succeed in the corporate world.

Problems and Prospects for Inside and Outside CEOs

Whether are you are elevated internally as CEO or hired externally as CEO, you must take action steps to achieve a huge success. If you are hired internally you will have both merits and demerits. The merits include you already understand the pulse of the people and the organization. The demerits include you have to get out of perceptions of all stakeholders which is a very challenging task. If you are hired as CEO externally it takes time for you to understand organizational culture and get adjusted to it while the merit is that you are free from perceptions as people look at you on a clean slate.

A Blueprint for new CEOs

The new CEOs must clearly focus on key areas aggressively. The point here is how to spot the areas that need to be focused. Hence, they must find out the key and core areas that need attention and energy, and focus on them aggressively to achieve the desired outcomes.

As a new CEO you are always under scanner from all stakeholders. Ensure that the first few days as CEO are highly organized and focused to create everlasting impression as a successful CEO and leader.  Be cautious to present and project yourself professionally as a leader by blending your intelligence, trustworthiness, humaneness, courage, and discipline proportionately and judiciously.  For a new CEO who undertakes this role, there are certain dos and don’ts to stand out from others.   Here is a template containing action steps new CEOs must follow to create a positive impact, and to ensure everlasting impression in the minds of all stakeholders.

  • Get to know the details of the company including its vision and mission before joining.
  • Meet all stakeholders to find out their expectations and aspirations. If required, travel widely to connect with them.  Get the big picture right.
  • Don’t follow your predecessor as what worked for him/her might not work for you.
  • Conduct organizational assessment after taking inputs from all sources. Create a CEO template in your mind which must be flexible to execute.
  • Craft your own vision and use diversified communication vehicles including email, memos, videoconferences and face-to-face meetings to articulate your vision effectively.
  • Speak less and listen more.
  • Build a strong team capitalizing on their strengths and engage team members effectively.
  • Blend your domain expertise with technical, business and social acumen.
  • Retain the good performers and remove the poor performers.
  • Encourage innovative ideas among employees.
  • Provide inputs to your employees regularly; guide and inspire them.
  • Be a strong team leader. Align diversified team members into the mainstream of business.
  • Reorganize business lines to enhance operational excellence.
  • Lead efficiently and wisely.
  • Be flexible and customize your leadership style as per the company’s vision and mission and the people around.
  • Walk your talk.
  • Find out how do you like to be remembered ultimately? Do you want to be remembered as a soft CEO or a hard CEO, or a flexible CEO, or a situational CEO or a CEO with a blend of both task and people orientation? And create your own CEO brand accordingly to stand out with others

Whether you become a new CEO of a company or a leader of an industry, you must follow the outlined steps meticulously to achieve organizational excellence and effectiveness.  Take your feedback regularly to bring out behavioral changes within you. Learn lessons from your own experience and from the experience of others to enhance your leadership effectiveness to soar like an eagle.


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