Congratulations, you made it to CEO! You have worked so hard and have climbed that ladder and now you are the one in charge of the whole organisation! When the initial delight has sunk in, it’s easy to understand why self-doubt and fear can set in. Those nagging thoughts appear “Did someone make a mistake?” “Do I have enough experience for this?” “Do I actually deserve this opportunity?”
Life at the top can be lonely, the realisation of the colossal responsibilities that you now hold can be overwhelming. The entire organisation now looks to you for direction and watches your every step. There’s stakeholders to answer to, your ‘to do’ list just got a whole lot longer. Who will support you? Will you be blamed and criticised? Will people doubt you and whisper about you over their lunch breaks?
The life of a CEO can be tough; rarely do people at the top receive praise or feedback. There can be a lack of support and many newly appointed CEOs can feel like an imposter. So what can you do to ensure you will be a great CEO? Firstly, don’t let uncertainty hold you back!
Remember that no one is prepared when they first become a CEO
Leadership isn’t something that is taught in the class room Granted your education and experience to date may have prepared you for this role, but leadership is a skill best learnt on the job. The good news is, you are in the same boat as every other new CEO, nobody walked into their first CEO role completely prepared!
Think about your role models and mentors, who are they? What kind of obstacles did and do they face as a leader? How did they navigate these? What advice would they give you?
Accept that you will never be perfect
Perfect, what is perfect anyhow? Whatever your definition of perfect is, it’s impossible to achieve. Great leaders are those who have faced challenging times, those who took a decision and made a mistake. They learnt from these mistakes, which is what makes them strong and inspirational leaders. Striving for perfection only robs you of these valuable learning opportunities.
There’s no short cuts to being a great leader, you will get there over time, with a few mistakes under your belt. So long as the decisions you are making are moving the organisation forward then you are doing your job as CEO. Some of your decisions will be better than others, but as a real leader you will be required to take risks to make the necessary change and this comes with positive and negative consequences.
Accept that mistakes are part of the job, but stay honest and real. Ask your team for feedback and don’t be afraid to change course if you feel you feel you were not on track first time. It’s more important to admit a mistake and get back on course. People around you will respect you a great deal more. Be open about your mistakes (and your achievements) it will help to keep you real.
Ensure you keep the dialogue open with your team, if they see your decision as final, they won’t contribute their ideas or point out any problems that are likely to arise. Ensure your team feel comfortable making suggestions and giving feedback. If they see you learning from your mistakes, your team will be more empowered to take risks and gain results.
Being a leader is not easy, but don’t make it harder for yourself. Avoid taking things out on the team, celebrate the small wins and accept that mistakes will happen. Life is a learning curve and the job of a CEO is no different!