"People come to work with the best intentions to give it their best and work on the right things. If we don't plan effectively together, they may work on what they think is important, not what is actually important to the organization's success." - Alan Gehringer
Congratulations on making it to the top of the organizational hierarchy; not an easy feat to accomplish. Some leaders work a lifetime and never get there, some do not have the DNA to suit the role, and others simply don't want the responsibility. It is lonely at the top, as the old saying goes! You're a new CEO, you've got a company to run, and you might have some difficulty deciding where to start.
Someone has placed a lot of confidence in you, whether it be the board, family members, or others within the organization. Regardless, this is just the start. Hopefully, you have been groomed for the position, although this is often not the case. The sink or swim approach is common even in our advanced society. I feel your pain. I have been there myself as a new CEO. The good news is that if you are willing to seek support, guidance, and help, many resources are available to ensure success.
I have the privilege of coaching and facilitating planning with clients worldwide and have worked with many first-time CEOs. This is an even more immense privilege as I can share what I have learned, all the great patterns, what works, pitfalls to avoid, etc.
A great book I read when I first took the reins as a new CEO is "The First 90 Days," written by a Harvard business professor, Michael Watkins. It is an excellent book that coaches one to develop a ninety-day plan and create early successes, a recommended read for any new CEO. Building on that theme, it is imperative to put an effective rhythm of planning and meetings in place to drive success as a new leader.
Common concerns of new CEOs
Here are some common themes I hear when I work with new CEOs:
- How do I make sure I am focusing on the right things?
- How do I allocate my time?
- How do I put the best team together and keep them motivated?
- How do I communicate effectively?
- How do I get my team and everyone else in the organization working on the right things?
- How do I keep people focused?
- How do I keep my people aligned?
- How do I keep people accountable?
- How do I get my employees to work together?
- What if I don't know what I'm doing?
- How do I motivate my team?
- How do I stay organized?
- How do I manage my time effectively?
- How do I handle conflict?
And the list goes on, but you get the idea.
I came across a system about 17 years ago that helps with all these things. You can call it an operating system for business. I am referring to the Rhythm System, which is comprised of a methodology, a software platform, and seasoned experts like myself that provide onboarding, training, strategy, and execution planning along with personalized coaching support. I was trained on the system and used it with my clients before joining Rhythm Systems ten years ago. It addresses every new CEO's concerns and ensures successful execution while producing predictable results. We call it the Rhythm of Work™.
The Rhythm of Work™
It begins with putting a planning cadence in place throughout the year, which consists of the following.
3-5 Year Strategic Planning
2-3 days allocated to work on the core foundational components of the business, core purpose, core values, BHAG, and 3–5-year strategies for growth and profitability. This can be longer depending on what is already in place and what needs to be refreshed.
Annual and Quarterly Alignment
This is where you develop the plan for the year that supports your longer-term strategies and is the basis for the annual execution plan. Next is creating a 13-week execution plan. It sounds like the book I mentioned, "The First 90 Days", right? This is where the rubber meets the road in developing crystal clear plans so that everyone knows exactly what they should be working on every single day of the quarter. We assign owners to each priority along with outcome-based success criteria so that each team member knows what goals to work on and what success is on them. The team reviews and agrees on all of them.
Weekly Adjustment Meetings
Notice we do not call these status meetings, and that is because the intent is to work on the priorities that are off track and develop plans of action to get them back in the green zone as soon as possible. This is a minor major; doing this keeps your execution plans front and center all quarter long to drive successful execution.
Daily Focus and Accountability
To further support the quarterly execution planning and weekly meetings, we recommend putting daily questions and huddles in place. This keeps the team focused on the theme for the quarter, allows for a quick sync up to reinforce accountability, celebrate progress, and get team members unstuck so they can continue to execute effectively.
Operationalize the Rhythm of Work™
To keep all this front and center and in one place, we developed the Rhythm software, which organizes all of your long-term strategy work along with your annual and quarterly execution plans to include your key performance indicator dashboards. Everyone on the team has access and can see how the work is progressing in real-time. Comments are used throughout the week to collaborate and make adjustments to drive successful execution.
And lastly, Rhythm Success Managers provide white glove service to train and onboard new CEOs and their teams to ensure bulletproof implementation. At the same time, Rhythm Consultants facilitate strategy and planning sessions while coaching for accountability.
So as a new CEO, it does not have to be so lonely at the top, and you can guarantee success if you put the right systems, processes, and people to work for you.
Consider grabbing a copy of the book I mentioned above and while you are at it, add the books "Rhythm" and "Predictable Results" to the order. These will give you a more in-depth understanding of the operating system and clients who use it to drive their growth and profitability. And it will increase your odds of success as a new CEO exponentially!
Best wishes for success, and congratulations again on your new role!
Alan"We help CEOs succeed and provide a framework and platform that is liberating for everyone involved." -Alan Gehringer
You may also be interested in reading New Middle Market CEO: 11 Tips to Get Started as a New CEO
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