Your company has probably just wrapped up its Q1 reporting. Now, what are you going to do with the data?
The data tells you how the decisions you made at your annual planning session are playing out, and as CEO, it will be your responsibility to hold your employees and c-suite colleagues accountable for the targets you’ve hit and missed.
But how are you holding yourself accountable? How are you assessing your own hits and misses?
We challenge the CEOs we work with to take our Leadership Review Test at least once every year. But the CEOs who are really devoted to self-improvement hold their feet to the fire quarterly. I’m challenging you to do likewise.
Set aside half an hour or so to work through these self-assessment questions. Be tough, honest, and fair. Measuring the distance between where you are as a leader and where you want to be is going to push you towards BIG changes and BIG improvements for your company. Here we go.
1. Do you have A players in every role?
Rate every person reporting to you as an A, B, or C. Now, take off your CEO hat for a second and put on your coach’s cap. How can you coach up those Bs to As? What challenges does that B face? How can you help him or her clear those hurdles? How can you inspire that B to achieve a higher level of performance that’s going to benefit the employee’s career and the company as a whole?
And the Cs? Why are they still working for you?
Have all your direct reports do the same for every member of their teams, and so on down the line. Top companies hire top performers, especially in the C-Suite. Who is the best person in the country, in your state, in your town for every job. If you think you can’t afford to hire that person, ask yourself a better question: Can you afford NOT to? Find a way to make that hire happen and you’ll get a multiple return on your investment.
2. What action that you took last quarter had the biggest positive impact on your company?
Maybe you pushed for incremental improvements that snowballed into a big improvement. Maybe you made a key hire who can take your business to the next level. It’s important to take note of identifiable actions that improved your company so you can take similar actions in the future.
3. What was the biggest mistake you made as a leader last quarter?
The snowstorm that delayed a product shipment, causing you to miss a quarterly earnings target, wasn’t your fault. But if you didn’t have the infrastructure in place to make up for lost time quickly, that might have more to do with poor contingency planning than the weather. A new C-level hire may have gone wrong due to your weak vetting process. An A player might have jumped ship to your competition because your micromanaging was keeping him from excelling.
Don’t brush aside problems with easy answers — keep asking questions until you get to the real issues. Whatever your mistakes are, own up to them.
4. What did you learn?
This is about more than just what you learned running your firm. For example, what did you learn about your competitors? What technological innovations might disrupt your business? What are you learning at conferences, or at business lunches with other CEOs? Are you banking good advice from a coach or mentor? If this list isn’t long, you aren’t pushing yourself hard enough to keep on top of your business space. You’re complacent, and complacency kills.
Another essential but often overlooked learning: threat assessment. An effective CEO sees new competition coming a mile away, anticipates evolving trends in the marketplace, and is prepared to disrupt their company to keep it dynamic and successful. What threatens your business? What are your plans to neutralize those threats?
5. How can you be a more effective leader?
Effective CEOs clear their desks of all but the most essential leadership tasks: managing the company’s vision, tracking cash flow, hiring top talent, cultivating the key relationships that help the business run smoothly, and learning, learning, learning. Any task outside of these priorities is getting in the way of you running your company. Delegate, and get back to leading.
6. What is the #1 most important goal you want to achieve this year?
Top companies are laser-focused on their big goal, a Huge Outrageous Target or HOT. What is that goal that might seem a little crazy, but will inspire you and your team to work harder and take the company to places it’s never been before? Are you in control of that goal? What help do you need from your key team members to hit that goal?
7. What is the number one specific and measurable activity you can keep score on that will lead you to that goal?
To paraphrase Jim Collins, embrace your inner hedgehog. Forget about all the stuff that your company does well. Find that one thing you’re great at, the thing that you do better than anybody else, and burrow into it. Track it, measure it, and focus on the processes that are going to turn that economic driver into a sustainable engine for growth.
Now for the hard part: reviewing your answers and assessing your performance.
Forget about the word “test” for a moment, and try not to think about this exercise in terms of pass or fail. After all, if being the boss was easy, everyone would do it. Every CEO goes through peaks and valleys. What separates the best of the best is that they periodically ask themselves these tough questions and hold themselves accountable for the good and the bad.
But as important as I think this exercise is, the Leadership Review Test is no substitute for the ongoing process of review and accountability that comes from regular check-ins with a trusted mentor or working with a CEO coach.
So congratulations on completing step one. Now, how are you going to keep pushing yourself so that the next time you take the Leadership Review Test, you pass with flying colors?
About Mark Moses
Mark Moses is the Founding Partner of CEO Coaching International and the Amazon Bestselling author of Make Big Happen. His firm coaches over 175 of the world’s top high-growth entrepreneurs and CEO’s on how to dramatically grow their revenues and profits, implement the most effective strategies, becoming better leaders, grow their people, build accountability systems, and elevate their own performance. Mark has won Ernst & Young’s Entrepreneur of the Year award and the Blue Chip Enterprise award for overcoming adversity. His last company ranked #1 Fastest-Growing Company in Los Angeles as well as #10 on the Inc. 500 of fastest growing private companies in the U.S. He has completed 12 full distance Ironman Triathlons including the Hawaii Ironman World Championship 5 times.
About CEO Coaching International
CEO Coaching International works with the world’s top entrepreneurs, CEOs, and companies to dramatically grow their business, develop their people, and elevate their overall performance. Known globally for its success in coaching growth-focused entrepreneurs to meaningful exits, CEO Coaching International has coached more than 350 CEOs and entrepreneurs in more than 20 different countries. Every coach at CEO Coaching International is a former CEO or President that has made big happen. The firm’s coaches have led double-digit sales and profit growth in businesses ranging in size from $10 million to over $1 billion, and many are founders that have led their companies through successful eight and nine figure exits. CEOs and entrepreneurs working with CEO Coaching International for four years or more have experienced an average revenue CAGR of 40.1% during their time as a client, more than four times the national average. Additionally, clients have averaged 210% growth in profit while working with the firm. For more information, please visit: https://www.ceocoachinginternational.com