One question you may want to ask yourself is, “What kind of CEO am I?” My observation over the years is that most CEOs fall into two categories. The first category consists of those that are very growth-oriented, focusing mainly on sales and marketing activities. They find money everywhere. Remember my “Revenue is vanity, profit sanity, and cash is king” motto here. You may be good at growing the top line, but if you are not careful you may find weak net profit margins compared to some of the other top companies in your space. Another potential pitfall is inadequate margin on your revenue, which will cause you to be prone to finding yourself with little cash and to giving up too much equity to others to feed your revenue habit.
The second type of CEO is very execution-oriented. If this is you, you and your team are masters of your craft. When I go into your businesses I find you are excellent at what you do. You pay close attention to every detail, and can show me tons of metrics as to why you are great. The reason you’ve hired me is that you do not have the revenue to show for it. You spend the majority of your time perfecting processes and creating perfect products and services. It is common for you to get and keep a customer forever. However, your perennial problem is getting more customers. You have little sales and marketing orientation, and if you’re honest you will tell me that you hate selling and think that marketing is a waste of time and money.
You can see the real challenge. There is a never-ending conflict between strategy and execution. It is yin versus yang. Strategy is about growth and execution turning revenue into profit efficiently and removing waste. They often bang up against each other, and if you do not hear a lot of conflicting opinions you know you have a problem. Growth without discipline and making choices creates a lot of waste and burns cash. You rarely have one leader that is good at paying attention to both.
I raise the original question, “Are you growth- or execution-oriented?” If you are one or the other, it will be important to go back to your people section and ask this question, “Do I have enough of the right types of the right people on my team to scale the company?” Do you have a tendency to squeeze out the opposite type of person because of your preference?
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