Every CEO needs to be a priority driven CEO. One major mistake that leaders often make is not identifying the top priorities for themselves and their organizations. They simply don’t understand the value of putting first things first. Steven Covey introduced this foundational principle when he wrote the book “7 Habits of Highly Effective People.” In fact he would go on to point out that, “The key is not to prioritize what’s on your schedule, but to schedule your priorities.”
Mr. Covey realized that the each person has the ability chart the course for their own life and leadership. His words still speak to leaders today as powerfully as they did two decades ago when he wrote his book. Ever CEO needs to be a prioritized CEO. Here is a leadership truism to remember.
CEOs will either set their priorities or their priorities will be set by others.
Buck Jacobs, the founder of the C12 Group shared this important insight about priorities. He said, “Priorities are what we do, everything else is just talk.” It is easy to talk the leadership game. It is easy to say the right things and to act like we are working on the first things that would help the organization. However, the reality is that most leaders just talk. Their actions do not match their words.
5 Priorities Every CEO Should Establish:
1. Every CEO Should Have the Priority to Improve Themselves and their Teams.
A CEO’s organization and team will not get better until they get better. Every CEO should be intentional about their own personal growth and development. Leaders’ need time to improve their ability to make decisions, learn new concepts, and be exposed to new ideas. When a CEO decides to quit improving, their people will quit improving. The best way that I have seen this implemented is through CEO Roundtables where CEOs spend the day with their peers discussing business ideas to improve their organizations.
Coaching Question: How much of your time and resources have you given to improving yourself and your team?
2. Every CEO Should Have the Priority to Set Healthy Boundaries for Themselves.
Priorities help to determine direction. CEOs and leaders can sabotage themselves by not having boundaries to keep themselves focused and headed in the right direction. Leaders need to set boundaries in just a few areas to help protect their top priorities. These areas should include: personal growth; team development; setting strategy; personal health; and time with family. When a leader does not take the proactive step to protect their priorities then their priorities become pushed down by the powerless. They submit to the activities of life and work that do not produce the results or make a difference.
Coaching Question: Have you blocked time on your schedule for your top priorities?
3. Every CEO Should Have the Priority to Inspire Their Team By Setting a Great Direction.
CEOs are called to lead. They are called to set direction and chart a course. During these tumultuous business years this priority has become even more important. People have always been inspired by great vision. It is essential for the CEO to set the vision and the direction for the company and then to rally their people to the cause. The CEO must never forget to the hold up the vision and remind the people that work in their company “why” they do what they do.
Coaching Question: Do your people want to follow you because you have set a great direction for where you would like to go?
4. Every CEO Should Have the Priority to Establish Momentum and Increase Energy.
Momentum and energy are two of the most important assets of any organization. CEOs have an important task on focusing on how to increase energy and accelerate momentum in their organization. Every leader knows that this is true and yet so few leaders actually spend any time on how to improve these areas in their company.
Coaching Question: What decision could you make today that would help you to increase energy and accelerate momentum in your company?
5. Every CEO Should Have the Priority to hear the words “Well Done.”
Every CEO and business owner is a steward of the company that they run. At some point they will pass on the company to the next owner or generation. They should see themselves as stewards and not owners of the business.
There is a wonderful Bible story about business. Jesus tells a story about a businessman who leaves his business to three employees. Some time later, the owner returns. The first two employees did outstanding work while the owner was gone. They even increase profits and sales. The third employee did nothing. The owner makes this statement about the first two employees, “Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share your Master’s happiness.” (Matthew 25:21)
This should be the story for every business owner. Every CEO should make it their top priority to hear the words “Well Done!”
Coaching Question: If you transitioned out of your business today would you hear the words “Well Done?”
Priorities are where leaders spend their time, money, and resources. A good quick assessment is to evaluate how much time, money, and resources have you given to the five areas just mentioned. Are you talking a good game or do you really have priorities. Listen again to the wise words of Buck Jacobs when he said, “Priorities are what we do, everything else is just talk.”
CEOs give great advice and counsel to other CEOs. It is often lonely at the top and it is hard to know where to look to for advice and counsel. When CEOs speak, other CEOs should listen. Can you imagine sitting around a table with CEOs like this that could give you good advice each month? Wise CEOs look to their peers to help achieve breakthroughs in their life and business.