So, you just landed the top job and now you have to figure out what exactly you need to be doing in this job. There is no handbook, no supervisor guiding the way, no clear path that is laid before you and yet somehow you are supposed to know what to do and how to actually move the company forward ensuring its success.
Can you say overwhelm?!
Your board, staff, donors, investors, community members and the media are all asking you what your vision is the for organization. They are hungry to find out the direction you will be taking the company and how you will get there. While you may have worked in the company previously and risen up to the CEO role, most likely, you are an outside hire. Your skillset and resume proved to be the best out of all of the candidates to fill the role of CEO. However, the problem is that you barely know anything about the company not to mention how to fix it, make it successful and wrapping that all up in one grand vision! So what are you supposed to say when people ask the question, “What’s your vision for the company now that you are on board?”
And what exactly are you supposed to fill your days doing?
How do you know what the priorities are and what is best for you to do vs. your team?
Doing vs. Being
In your first 3 months as CEO, you need to resist the urge of ‘doing’ and step into the art of ‘being’. Let me explain.
Everyone will want you to pick up the pieces of your predecessor. Your staff will approach you with questions, projects and big ideas that your predecessor didn’t consider and now, since you are on board, there is a chance that you will hear them out and want to proceed with your staff’s big idea or project.
Your board members will be skeptical. Nice, but skeptical. They will be welcoming but unsure of how to proceed with you. And, most importantly, they will be worried about how you will truly handle the enormity of your role.
The donors, investors and community will anxiously wait in the wings to hear word of how you will make the company more successful. And, they assume whatever you propose will be great because of your experience and your new and outside perspective on the company.
The pressure of it all will begin to set in.
You are worried that you don’t have what it takes to be successful at your new job because you have no idea where to start with creating a big company vision that is realistic and inspirational. Let me stop you there. You do have what it takes. I promise.
Listen to Your Team
Whenever you think you don’t know the answers to any problem here is the easiest most simple and yet profoundly effective solution. Ask others. You actually don’t have to know it all!
Say what?! Yes, I am telling you that if you ask others about what they think the solution to the problem you are facing may be, you will learn a lot about your company and the solution will have been provided to you. The best part is that when you talk to people, ask their opinions and truly listen, you are building trust, rapport and respect, which is critical to building effective relationships. (And, you already know that relationships are key to success in any organization, and this is how you start that process).
So, stop the overwhelm before it starts. Take a deep breath and remember that you don’t have to know everything. The best leaders know that about themselves, admit it and very openly and honestly ask for advice, input and feedback all of the time. Your staff, board, donors, investors and community know a lot more about the company then you do at this point, so ask them what they think the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats are to the company. Ask them what their ideal vision is for the company. Once you get all of this information, you compile it, tweak it and create one vision for the organization. This will do wonders for your reputation. People will feel heard. That is your role.
Stop talking and start LISTENING!!! You will be a better leader for it.