Your 3 Most Important Responsibilities as Head-Babe-In-Charge
Whether your official title is Founder or CEO, if you’re the big boss, this one’s for you.
As the Head Babe in Charge, you’re pulled in so many different directions every day that it’s easy for your priority list to get flipped upside down. The weeks fly by as you get caught up putting out fires, traveling for client meetings, and dealing with crises, and before you know it, your to-do list of Boss Things has been pushed to the wayside. This reactive cycle may seem productive in the short run, but it’s not a sustainable way to achieve growth. Sure, you can keep the wheels spinning for a while and bounce between periods of boom and bust, but real growth is strategic and only happens by design.
So what does proactive leadership and greatness by strategic design look like? What CEO things do you need to be prioritizing?
Here are the three most important job duties you have:
#1 Set the direction for your company
This applies to everything your company does. You as the leader and visionary need to set the direction for what market your company will be in, what products or services you’ll provide, and what differentiators and competitive advantages you have. You also dictate where you’re going next, how you’ll respond to industry risks, and how you plan to grow over the next few years. Setting direction and communicating it clearly are crucial to company success because, without it, your employees won’t feel like their jobs are fulfilling or impactful.
#2 Develop short-term objectives
As the leader, you must take that overarching vision, break it down into short-term objectives, and lead your team along the way. You need to create yearly or quarterly goals so members of your team understand the immediate role they play in achieving the vision. Each employee should be able to explain how what they do on a daily basis aligns with the long-term direction of the company so they can act autonomously in the company’s best interest. It’s important to note that by short term, we’re referring to yearly or quarterly objectives and goals, NOT weekly or daily. In some industries, it’s necessary to manage weekly or daily production but proceed with caution. You don’t want too narrow of a focus that you lose sight of your big picture vision.
#3 Inspire others and serve as the chief advocate of the company’s mission, vision, and values.
As the leader, whether you like it or not, every single thing you do trickles down through your company. Who you hire, who you fire, your behaviors, your reactions, your priorities, your decisions, your silence, your praise-- it all speaks volumes and dictates the future behavior of your employees. If you have a set of values you want your employees to live by, you must be living those out yourself 24/7. No pressure right?! Don’t worry, you don’t have to be perfect, but you do need to handle situations perfectly. This means that if you mess up and do something that violates your value set, you have to own up to it and communicate transparently about it to your employees.
Now that you know what top three things you must be doing, here’s a few solid reasons why:
#1 Because no one else in your company can
You’re it. The buck stops at you. As the leader, you’re the only one that has the ability and the influence to take on the CEO duties above. I’ve seen several CEOs try to dish out these responsibilities to their COO or managers, but it never works. Creating vision is not a team activity. The team can help you figure out how to make the vision a reality, and they definitely will be doing a lot of the heavy lifting, but only you can provide the vision. It’s your company and you’re the final decision maker, so it’s on you.
#2 Because your company won’t grow stronger if you don’t
I’ve once heard it said that there are only two ways to grow-- stronger or fatter. As with the human body, growing stronger requires dedication, time, discipline, and training. So many companies believe that by adding fat (extra employees, new clients, more office space), they’re growing, but in reality, they could be operating more inefficiently, spending way more in overhead, or decreasing service quality-- all unsustainable and poor for the health of their business. If you want your company to grow stronger, you need to work smarter and constantly take on the important CEO duties above.
#3 Because your employees will be happier, more motivated, less likely to leave, and you’ll run more efficiently which will make you more money in the long term.
It seems that as leaders, we’re constantly trading off these important CEO duties for immediate money-making activities like pitching new clients or hiring and training new employees, but the truth is that without a solid foundation of established vision, direction, objectives, and values, you’ll continue to spin your wheels forever. In fact, the longer you put off the CEO duties and continue operating in chaos, your to-do list will grow and your culture will evolve into one that values crisis over planning and reactivity over proactivity. It is crucial that you set a solid foundation and build upon it instead of doing a half-hearted job and having to uproot and completely renovate later. If you do it right from the beginning, you will attract and retain brilliant employees, who are inspired to do great work for your company, which clients or customers will appreciate, which will make you more money in the long term.