Develop Your Own Personal CEO Guidance System

Screen Shot 2016-10-14 at 4.01.40 PM“Build an army around you and develop your own ‘personal guidance system’ like some of the most famous CEOs in history.”

Why consider a CEO peer group? Growing your business isn’t easy. Richard Franzi:

“The whole effort of CEOs working together is more than the sum of those same CEOs working separately…. The power of a CEO peer group includes the ability to focus the collective awareness of many executives on one specific issue. The result is an intensity of thought capable of delivering much greater mental energy.” Check out Franzi’s short article: 10 Reasons To Join A CEO Peer Group.

Experience a Vistage CEO peer group for yourself this Thursday.

Our morning speaker is Pat Murray. He’s a nationally-recognized expert on the topic of high-performance leadership. Murray is leading a workshop on what makes the top 1-2 percent of the CEO ranks so exceptional. He’ll answer this powerful question: What separates the top 1-2% CEOs from everyone else?

Save this date:

  • What: Chief Executive Peer Group Meeting
  • When: Thursday, October 20. Breakfast 7:30 AM sharp. Speaker: 8 to 11 AM
  • Where: Escala (Theatre Room), 1920 4th Avenue, Seattle, WA 98101
  • RSVP now (seating is limited)

I look forward to seeing you next Thursday. If you can’t make 10/20 then please get in touch with me about 11/17 and 12/15. 

Suggested reading: 

The CEO–Board Dynamic in Strategic Development and Oversight

Board Strategic Development & Oversight Stanford

Keep in mind:

  • One of the primary responsibilities of the board is to “ensure the strategic guidance of the company.” – OECD
  • Directors should “constructively challenge and help develop proposals on strategy.” –U.K. Corporate Governance Code
  • Directors consider strategic planning and oversight to be their most important responsibility. –NACD

How exactly does the board perform this function? Review the Stanford Business Strategy and Risk Oversight deck to find out.

World-class CEOs Work on (NOT in) the Business…

“Every minute that you spend working on tasks that can be delegated is a minute that you are not planning, strategizing and building the best business possible.”

Work On NOT In Screenshot Dabic

I adapted Bob Babic’s flipchart (below right) to illustrate what working on (NOT in) your business means.

Working ON your business is about:

  1. Knowing when to get out of your own way.
  2. Not being the hero; a team moves a company forward not a CEO.
  3. Knowing that you don’t have all the answers. Stop micromanaging. Stop trying to control everything.
  4. A willingness to build a team and hire talent that knows more than you (takes humility).
  5. Playing to your strengths. Do you know your strengths? Brandon Miller does…
  6. Delegating big responsibilities to the talent you hire. Stop doing. Start empowering.
  7. Stepping back from the day-to-day minutiae and into the BIG PICTURE (see visual below).
  8. Finding innovative ways to scale your business for profitable growth.
  9. Knowing your 3-5 most critical KPIs not a gazillion metrics.
  10. Spotting problems and delegating the “work out” or solution.
  11. Finding the whitespace to set goals and think about the future.
  12. Owning the vision, strategy, culture, and team-building.
  13. Making sure that the right resources (people and money) show up at the right time.
  14. Realizing you didn’t hire employees–these are the people that will make your vision a reality
  15. Building an empire unless you prefer the lifestyle business.

Vistage Value Bob Dabic

Thanks to Bob Babic’s handwriting (see right) for inspiring this post. Bob is a Best Practice Chair and Lead Trainer for Vistage Worldwide. He is also a great guy and an exceptional mentor. Unfortunately for Seattle, Bob is based in Orange County, CA.

If you’re interested in learning more about membership and the selection process for joining one of my CEO peer groups, please text or call me: (206) 890-6858.

If I call you and you’re looking for an excuse to not talk, here are the Top 10 Reasons Why NOT to Join a CEO Peer Advisory Board. Building a leadership chair practice requires a sense of humor.

Related Reading

*A 2015 analysis revealed that companies who joined Vistage over the past five years grew at three times the rate of average U.S. companies.

Isolated? Hearing Echos? Find Your Decision-Making Sweet Spot

Screen Shot 2016-08-31 at 9.43.21 PMTo be a great decision-maker you must fine-tune your network. You must also carefully and continually engage in social explorationFrom the HBR article, Beyond the Echo Chamber:

“Decisions don’t happen in a vacuum; the best ones rarely come from deep pondering in isolation. They happen when people learn from and draw on the experiences of others. In this process, success depends greatly on the quality of social exploration—and on whether your information and sources of ideas are diverse and independent.”

…[T]he social networks of the star performers were more diverse than the networks of the middling performers. Star performers reach out to people from a broader set of work roles, so they understood the perspectives of customers, competitors, and managers. Because the stars could see the situation from a variety of viewpoints, they could develop better solutions to problems.

Decision-making Sweet Spot Kevin McKeown

If you want to make higher quality decisions and achieve 30% better results then:

  • Expose yourself to broad, diverse, independent sources of information (CEO peer group)
  • Matt Phillips © Artwork, Untitled (2010) Oil-on-Canvas 20"x14"

    Matt Phillips © 2010 Oil Canvas 20″ x 14″ (untitled)

    Learn from the success and failure of others (CEO peer group)

  • Draw upon collective wisdom of your group (CEO peer group)
  • But guard against the herd mentality (CEO peer group)
  • And make sure you avoid groupthink (CEO peer group)

I am not trying to sell you. Either you’re in a ready-state for a CEO peer group or you’re not. If you are then let’s get in touch for 10-minutes. Please text or call me: (206) 890-6858. That starts the mutual selection journey into one of my groups.

Living and Leading in the Perpetual Discomfort Zone…

Quote Make Yourself Uncomfortable

I love this quote from Francisco D’Souza, CEO of Cognizant Technology Solutions:

In business, the comfort zone has never been a good place to be. Companies that get too comfortable risk becoming irrelevant, obsolete—and extinct. This is particularly true in today’s business world where the forces of globalization; new social, mobile, analytical and cloud technologies; and fast-changing customer, employee and partner demands encroach on our comfort zones daily—making discomfort the new comfort zone.

Business leaders need to recognize that this perpetual assault on their comfort zone can create opportunities—to challenge established practices and win against complacent competition. Forget the common advice to “extend your comfort zone” (which always sounds to me like merely dipping a toe in the water). Winning enterprises must seek to perpetually live in their “discomfort zone”—by continually questioning conventional wisdom, reinventing work, and welcoming disruptive innovation.

How do enterprises, ecosystems, and employees function in the perpetual discomfort zone? D’Souza:

  1. Think fast and think forward. Intentionally establish new areas of discomfort.
  2. Compete on code and manage on meaning. Decode data surrounding customers, markets and products.
  3. Agility is the killer behavior. Develop the ability to maneuver through a perpetual discomfort zone.
  4. Banish “not invented here” and embrace “invented there.” Look outside the company walls for ideas .
  5. Erase boundaries between core and context. What’s core today may be context tomorrow.
  6. Challenge the comfort zone. Collaborate with peer group to find new solutions to critical work challenges.
  7. Never stop learning. How are you acquiring, refining and applying new knowledge for tomorrow?

If you’re going to bed feeling comfortable then you’re probably not pushing yourself or your company hard enough. I recommend that you read D’Souza’s post–Discomfort Is the New Comfort Zone–on LinkedIn’s Pulse.

May you sleep well in your new state of perpetual discomfort.

How Does a CEO Create Positive, Purposeful Discomfort?

Quote-nobody-ever-died-of-discomfort-yet-living-in-the-name-of-comfort-has-killed-more-ideas-t-harv-eker-53-20-54In my last post, I talked about mindset, growing through discomfort and the effort effect. Leadership is about influence. Leadership is about growing others. How do you do that?

Make sure you focus on creating positive, useful discomfort for someone else.

According to Bill Treasurer, author of Leaders Open Doors, “positive, purposeful discomfort” is about:

  1. Having your employees’ backs by walking with them.
  2. Temporary. Permanent discomfort demotivates.
  3. Making sure that the benefits are obvious.

“It may surprise you that your job as an open-door leader is to make people uncomfortable, but good opportunities create discomfort. The idea is not to get people to do wildly uncomfortable things, just willfully uncomfortable things,” says Treasurer.

Seek discomfort like Treasurer did:

Throughout my career, I’ve always been willing to take jobs that were outside of my skill set. Some people think that’s crazy, but I’m telling you that I wouldn’t be sitting here as president (of a large communication company) if I had done it any other way. It’s dangerous to be safe.

Like Dan Rockwell–that leadership freak–says: Growth hurts: [so] create positive discomfort.

“Growth And Comfort Do Not Coexist”

That title is from Ginny Rometty, CEO of IBM. Pithy, huh? I relate…

I’m a guy that breathes persistence. I don’t give up. I lock onto my intended purpose. I grow through wilful discomfort all the time. Painful. Embarrassing. And, for some reason–hard to admit. I wish things flowed easier. Still, I believe that my ability can be developed. I focus on my growth. I don’t warm to a fixed mindset.

What about you? Do you see your “ability as something inherent that needs to be demonstrated or as something that can be developed?”

Fixed VS Growth Mindset Dweck PhD Stanford Effort Theory

Stanford: Fixed vs. Growth Mindset (click to enlarge image)


According to a Stanford psychology professor Carol Dweck, “You’ll reach new heights if you learn to embrace the occasional tumble.” Her evidence “shows that if we hold a fixed mindset, we’re bound not to reach as high as we might.”

Dweck’s research is solid:

If you want to demonstrate something over and over, it feels like something static that lives inside of you—whereas if you want to increase your ability, it feels dynamic and malleable,” Dweck explains. People with performance goals, she reasoned, think intelligence is fixed from birth. People with learning goals have a growth mindset about intelligence, believing it can be developed.

Three takeaways for CEOs and other leaders:

  1. An “excessive concern with looking smart keeps you from making bold, visionary moves. If you’re afraid of making mistakes, you’ll never learn on the job, and your whole approach becomes defensive: ‘I have to make sure I don’t screw up.'” says Robert Sternberg, Ph.D. and former president of the American Psychological Association.
  2. Stanford Business School professor Jeffrey Pfeffer says Dweck’s research has implications for performance management. He faults businesses for “spending too much time in rank-and-yank mode, grading and evaluating people instead of developing their skills.”
  3. Having a growth mindset (see diagram above) is good for your relationships. Dweck found that people who believe personality can change were more likely than others to bring up concerns and deal with problems in a constructive way. Dweck thinks a fixed mindset fosters a categorical, all-or-nothing view of people’s qualities; this view tends to make you ignore festering problems or, at the other extreme, give up on a relationship at the first sign of trouble.

Dweck research proves that you can change mindset. An effective leader knows how to guide, calibrate and pace change. You can’t do that from a fixed mindset. Are you in a ready-state? I’ll say this: joining my CEO peer group ensures your mind stays focused on growing. My members (your peers) promise that.

Next up: how can leaders “create positive, useful discomfort for someone else?”

Genius is Purposeful. How Leaders Deliver Extraordinary Results…

PurposeFUL 2Curious about an ongoing study of the mindsets of business leaders when delivering their most extraordinary results?  What is the mindset that shows up when CEOs are at their most effective?

Of the eight mindsets identified, the “Purposeful” theme is exhibited by 82% of the leaders. This mindset is especially important to a sense of personal power and mission and that translates into high levels of accomplishment.

So, how do you produce exceptional or brilliant results? Can you explain how you did it? Can you repeat? A mindset frame is not your genius but the “doorway” to your genius.

Dr. Eric Jackson’s research on exceptional performance reveals:

…[W]hen people are being their most exceptional and amazing selves, they are influenced by a particular frame of thinking: their Genius. By uncovering the Genius you don’t know you have, you can produce extraordinary results again and again.

Watch this powerful TEDx Talk:

You fuel your energy and resolve when you tap into your dominant genius mindset frame. Here are the 8 genius mindset frames presented in Jackson’s talk. Trust your instincts. Which mindset speaks to you?

  1. Purposeful: Impact, Legacy, Spiritual
  2. Other People: Collaboration, Contributor, Relationships, Success of others
  3. Positive Outlook: Optimism, Freedom, Choice
  4. Purpose of LifeMaximizing Possibilities: Making the Most, Finding Solutions
  5. Growth & Evolution: Learning, Discovering, Innovation
  6. Me with Me: Confidence, Self-awareness, Integrity (connected to self as a way of living)
  7. Experience of Life: Joy, Ease, Fun
  8. Get It Done: Perseverance, Hard Work, Winning

For business leaders having a purposeful mindset is key for driving performance. What might you do differently by looking through your genius mindset frame?