What CEOs Want

by | Jul 21, 2016 | Blog, High Road Leadership


I have researched, advised, and interviewed CEOs for over 30 years. I can summarize what the CEO wants from you and offer suggestions about what to do with this insight.

CEOs want their accountant to speak their language.

Therefore, ask yourself: What does the CEO speak about? How can I adapt what I do so we are on the same page?

CEOs want their accountant to be in command of the data regarding any company difficulties.

Therefore, ask yourself: What are those problems? How can we make them and their causes visible though our reports?

CEOs want their management team members to help connect the dots for employees to understand how their actions and decisions affect the top and bottom lines.

Therefore, ask yourself: Does the information we now provide enable managers and others to show these vital connections? If not, what needs to change so it does?

CEOs always have a top-of-the-line agenda. Always.

Therefore, ask yourself: What is it? How can I assist the CEO in making it happen?

CEOs hate isolationist thinking because it detracts from employees being focused on the customer.

Therefore, ask yourself: What am I doing to get rid of the silos that I encounter?

Example Domino’s Pizza

The CEO of Domino’s Pizza is credited with this business strategy: “If you do not make it, bake it, or take it, then support somebody who does.”

This statement means that employees in finance, as well as other support functions, must be able to partner with and support one of the three major drivers of your business.

–        The Make It people are the groups that develop, produce, and test out your firm’s products or services.

–        The Bake It people are the production group that creates your firm’s products and services.

–        The Take It people are the groups that actually sell or deliver the company’s products or services to your customers.

This means that if you fail to align yourself and fully support one of the three major drivers of your business, then you are seen as not adding value.

Therefore, ask yourself: What can you do to change that?

CEOs want their company filled with A players.

To a C-Level executive, in a typical organization there are three classifications of employees:

–        The A players.

–        The B players.

–        The C players.

The A players are the company’s star performers. These are the professionals who come to work every day and not only do their best, but they also consistently exceed expectations. These are the people that the CEO knows he or she can always rely on, no matter what happens.

The B players are average performers, whom the CEO can count on, but often do not go above the baseline expectation. They are reliable, yet the CEO knows (or hopes) that there is more that they can contribute.

The C players are below average performers. These are the employees who inadequately do the bare minimum. The CEO knows she or he cannot always count on or rely on them to do what needs to get done. C players generally create about 80% of a company’s employee challenges.

Pop Quiz

When a company is in trouble, who do you think leaves first?

___ A players?

___ B players?

___ C players?

The A players will leave first because they always have opportunities and are in demand at other organizations. In times of trouble, a company may lose some B players, but all the C players will remain. Over time the organization will be filled with only C players, but what a company needs to succeed are A players!

Therefore, ask yourself: How does the CEO see me? Am I an A player, B player, or a C player?

Am I doing my best to retain the A players on my team?