As you build your organisation, acknowledge your trade-offs

You can’t always attend to everything your organisation needs but try to be clear on the trade-offs when making your CEOship choices.

Like golf, CEOship is not a ‘game of perfect’.

The demands on you are significant and ever-changing and the journey to Optimal System Performance is ongoing and never complete. That’s part of the magic of being a CEO: the forever-changing goalposts that drive your growth and keep you on your toes.

My experience of CEOs is that sometimes they prefer to sweep problem areas under the rug, hoping that they don’t cause too much damage whilst other aspects of their businesses get the focus they require. It’s not an optimal approach although it is understandable to some degree.

A better approach is to recognise your area of non-attention and be conscious and explicit about the trade-offs that you’re making.

  • If you leave your culture unattended, expect some wayward behaviours.
  • If you leave your Strategy uninterrogated, expect less accuracy and traction in the market.
  • If you let your self-care slip, expect less energy within yourself.
  • If your hunger for self-growth lapses, expect your personal performance to dip.

None of the above is terminal and they won’t significantly hit your business in the short term. In fact, these tradeoffs are inevitable as you prioritise your efforts.

But that’s different from ignoring the consequences thereof. That is shadowy behaviour (defined as what we hide, repress, or deny) which allows the implications of your choices to lurk in the shadows with a life of their own, ultimately controlling you as opposed to you controlling them.

A non-shadowy, more clear-eyed acknowledgment could look like this:

“I know that I’m not going to be able to focus on my Exco cohesion this year and I accept that. However, it will be one of my top 5 focus areas in 2022, and I will mitigate the downsides to this as best for now I can using external coaching until next year starts.”

That’s a healthy acknowledgment of a trade-off: recognition of the problem, a mitigating solution in mind, and an explicit time horizon in which to fix it.

Enjoy the CEOship ride. You’ll never be perfect, but that’s the joy of the CEO position: you’ll never master it fully, but you can get damn close if you wish to!

As my son says before his rugby matches (under 9C’s …): “I’m going to smash it!”

I wish you that same intent and purposefulness for the week ahead.

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My weekly missive, CEO Sundays, is published at 5pm every Sunday evening. The writings cover CEO topics exclusively: how-to’s; thought starters; leadership insights; reflection opportunities; research.

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