Developing Yourself as a CEO

role of the ceoLearning from Your Past Leadership Roles

Think about the times you’ve held leadership roles in your life. (You may have been class president, a scout leader, a team leader in sports.) What were you doing? What team did you put together? Think through your past leadership experiences and analyze how well you did. Did you like it? If you were uncomfortable the first time you were a leader, did you go back for seconds anyway? Did each subsequent leadership role get easier?

Really take a hard look at those experiences and scrutinize what you did well and what you would do differently. I used to be pretty hard on people, expecting everyone to move at my speed (fast!), which made the people around me, including myself, dizzy and often crazy. I realized that saying to people, consciously or unconsciously, “do what I do and don’t ask questions” was not a great leadership strategy because it was all about me. Match people at their pace and lead them to yours.

Identifying Your Core Strengths or Talents

You cannot lead others unless you know what you do well and what you don’t do well. In Now, Discover Your Strengths, Marcus Buckingham discusses thirty-five core strengths that exist across the spectrum of people. Out of those, five will resonate as major strengths in each of us. Buckingham’s premise is that we can’t improve on weaknesses, we can only enhance our strengths. Over time and with work, each of our core strengths can be cultivated into what Buckingham calls talents. I’ve employed this assumption with almost all the people I work with, and it has proven to be quite accurate.

So, look at yourself: What are your core strengths? Are any of them talents yet? My guess is, if you’re reading a book about being a CEO, you have several strengths that have become talents. Some of the CEOs I work with are phenomenal at understanding the numbers, some are great with people, some are inventors and thinkers, some are operational aces, some are strategic thinkers, some are execution wizards, and some are terrific at sales. Some have more than one major strength, but the ones who are great leaders know where they excel and where they do not. They don’t pretend to be good in all areas, and they’re quick to identify their own missing strengths in others.

Excerpted from my book, “Putting Together the Entrepreneurial Puzzle: The Ten Pieces Every Business Needs to Succeed.” Available here on Amazon.