J. Miller and Company Blog

March 16, 2009

What it takes to be a successful CEO!

As I survey the landscape of clients, colleagues and friends in the remodeling industry, I look for patterns of success as well as patterns of failure.  These patterns, I’ve discovered, are not black and white, but shades of gray.  That’s one of the beauties of growing older (of which there are many to my mind) – I’m not quite so intent on placing my personal opinion, righteously defined, into the mix as the only opinion.  There are, as Rick Steves said on a travel program last week “many different truths which many different people hold as self evident.”

So it was with interest that I read in the Sunday NY Times (March 15, 2009, Business Section “Openers”, page 2) that a turn-around expert defined one of “the keys to effective leadership” as “you treat everybody incredibly well and lead with a bit of humility.”

He also said, in the same paragraph: “so I’m constantly asking the question, ‘What are the two or three levers that, if done right, if pulled correctly, will really turn this business?'”

So the obvious questions which come from the first paragraph of this short column entitled “Can you Pass a CEO Test?” are these:

  1. Are you humble?  Can you see others’ points of view easily and not just acknowledge the potential reasonableness of theirs but also change your own mind based on what you learn?
  2. What is the primary lever to pull to change your business around?  What is the secondary and then the tertiary?  For many people the primary lever is cash — banks are cutting lines of credit, clients are slower to pay and cash is the defining line between success or failure.  For others who have protected cash, and not spent it during the past year, the primary lever is sales — these are hard to come by now; competition is fierce and speed to the client is definitely not of great importance.  And finally, it might come down to morale:  yours and and that of your employees:  how do you keep those valuable people who remain upbeat enough to focus on productivity, positivism and playfulness — the 3 “Ps” in my mind which drive good morale in any company.  Oh yes, let’s add a fourth:  PROFITS!

The last paragraph says quite clearly something I’ve been asking for a long time:  “If compensation isn’t going to be the same, where do you get your fulfillment in life?”

Read the article in its entirety (it’s short):

http://www.nytimes.com/2009/03/15/business/15cornerweb.html?_r=1&scp=1&sq=GReg%20Brenneman&st=cse

Management Theory, Surviving the recession ,