What makes a successful CEO? [Podcast]

Many of us can easily rattle off qualities or traits of an unsuccessful CEO. That said, what is it about a great CEO that separates them from the rest of the pack? I recently interviewed Jim Schleckser on the Grow My Revenue Business Cast. Jim sheds light on the biggest things he sees holding CEOs back, the five roles of a CEO and when to play each, and the importance of defining and measuring your effectiveness.

Jim has spent his career running companies for other people, and used CEO peer groups to help him make difficult decisions and when to cross certain bridges. When he left that environment Jim opted to continue working with CEO peer groups and founded the Inc CEO Project, a company devoted to helping CEOs become great leaders for their companies.

In the interview, Jim and I talk about the biggest things he sees holding CEOs back, the five roles of a CEO and when to play each, and the importance of defining and measuring your effectiveness.

Listen to this episode and discover:

  • What is player mode and could it be stifling your business?
  • Does having a leader in a key role lower the value of a business being sold?
  • What makes mastermind and peer advisory groups so valuable?
  • Do you want all ‘A’ players in your business or are ‘B’ players also important?
  • And so much more…

Episode Overview

When I asked Jim what he sees holding most CEOs back from realizing their full potential, Jim said it’s how they allocate their time and engage in their business. Often CEOs are engaging in low-leverage roles and activities, when they should be engaging in high-leverage ones instead.

In essence, great CEOs understand their business is a system and if that system is underperforming in some way (not growing as quickly as it could, not earning as much as it could, etc.), it’s up to the CEO to find out why.

Jim compares this experience to that of a hose; if your business is a hose and the water is turned on but not flowing through as quickly or as heavily as you want it to then there’s a kink in the hose. It’s the CEO’s job to find that kink and un-kink it. Once that’s done they move on to the 5 primary roles of a CEO. In this podcast, he explains what those roles are and what is involved in each.

1. Architect.

The CEO explores how to architect the company and what business model to use. Who should the company be selling to and how should they sell so the customer only says yes? What should the price be? What should the margins be? Those are all questions the CEO asks and answers as the architect.

2. Coach.

The CEO plays the role of coach when dealing with any aspect of team talent. Who should be hired, fired, recruited, retained, retrained? All important considerations for the CEO acting as coach of the company.

3. Engineer.

The CEO as engineer is working on process and systems of the company such as what IT should the company have. He or she answers the questions: What should the website look like? The engineer role for the CEO also means they need to decide what values the company has, what stories the company tells, and what rewards are given within the company.

4. Player.

The CEO as player is the CEO who is actually working in the business in some way – such as making a sale. The CEO should only be in this role about 20% of the time so as not to interfere with the growth of the company. Being in this role is important because it gives you, the CEO, an opportunity to stay connected to the business firsthand, and ask a lot of questions from the other 4 roles’ perspectives.

5. Learner.

The truly exceptional CEOs of the world are voracious learners. When your business is running well that’s the time to go into learner-mode because you need to be asking what’s next for your business. If you aren’t asking that question no one else will.

Jim goes on to share the greatest piece of advice he’d give anyone else today, and shares why it is powerful to define and measure your effectiveness and your impact on your business, and to do this for yourself and your team. Jim provides those valuable lessons and more, so listen in and take action to implement learnings he provides on this episode.

The Interview is also available on iTunes and Stitcher.

“The power of the group mind is irreplaceable.”
– Jim Schleckser

About The Program
The Grow My Revenue Business Cast with Ian Altman – Unconventional strategies for Selling, Innovation, and Leadership.

Ian Altman, a Vistage Speaker, interviews some of the brightest minds who share proven methods to help you achieve success and grow revenue with integrity.

As an internationally respected business expert, Ian draws on his experience as a former CEO of two decades to help people and organizations achieve their business objectives. Through his energetic and interactive talks, Ian engages audiences from beginning to end to ensure they leave with actionable take-away messages they can immediately put into practice.

Ian is a weekly contributor to Forbes.com and two-time bestselling author on how to successfully grow business with integrity.

Grow Revenue in a Way Everyone Can Embrace…
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Category: Leadership

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About the Author: Ian Altman

Ian Altman, CEO of Grow My Revenue, LLC, is a speaker, author, and strategic advisor. He brings energy and humor, backed by research and real

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