My best advice for first-time CEOs

Social isolation. Lack of feedback. Fear of making bad decisions. 

These are typical challenges of first-time CEOs and other executives in new leadership positions.

By now, you probably know that most of my work is with CEOs and their executive teams. This is why I come across these challenges very often.

They’re common and difficult to solve, in particular when there’s pressure to deliver or things don’t work as expected in the organization.

At the beginning of their journey, first-time CEOs and new leaders have something more important to deal with than taking action to get things done though.

They have to deal first with their personal transition. 

What they did before doesn’t count anymore. What they know prior to the new assignment is not enough to lead the organization. 

In other words, it all boils down to shifting the mindset first in order to operate to the best of their abilities.

In this article, I’d like to give my personal advice to those leaders who are facing this transition right now or maybe they’re planning to get through this leadership journey in the next future:

1. Accept that you’ll spend more time alone than in your previous role

You’ll feel more isolated than in your previous role. Guaranteed. Your people will see you in a different way and you’ll have fewer social interactions. I know it seems weird but this is the life of a CEO.

2. Deal with the fact that you’ll make decisions often based on limited information

And it’ll never get easier. Especially in the current climate, it’ll be impossible to make decisions based on many data points. Use more your gut but acknowledge that you’ll make poor decisions.

3. Understand that power disparity will kick in

Your people will start seeing you through a different lens. They’ll treat you differently. Don’t criticize or judge them. Your job is to eliminate barriers to make sure people still feel confident in talking to you.

4. Comprehend that you’ll become the message in your company

Everything you’ll do will be under scrutiny. People will also emulate you and what you do. This is a double-edged sword though. The less consistent you are in your actions, the worse your culture will be.

5. Be ready to make yourself visible and be the face of your company even when things go south

Be ready to face the consequences and communicate transparently with your people and the market. The less uncertainty you create, the easier it will be for people to accept reality and take action.

6. Appreciate that success won’t be all about you

The quality of your team will make a real difference. 95% of CEOs I interviewed on my podcast admitted their success is correlated to their team. We are not into the Superman business. 

7. Join a peer advisory group or support network that will help you go through the journey and get fresh insights 

Many CEOs live in a bubble. They don’t have much chance to share their personal experiences, and failures or get insights from others outside of their own organization. Join a group of like-minded CEOs who can listen to you, give advice, inspire you, and keep you accountable (If you’re interested, get in touch as we’re building a 2023 CEO mastermind right now for 8-10 international ambitious CEOs).

Oh. The last thing…

8. Remember to enjoy the journey

You’ll have huge responsibilities and obligations, but this shouldn’t stop you to live a wonderful experience. Many people will love to be in your place. Make your journey positive and rewarding.

As a final note, remember that you’ll have a massive opportunity to impact lives. This is what a CEO can do and others can’t.

Don’t waste it. 

Listen to the podcast related to this article: https://www.andreapetrone.com/my-best-advice-for-first-time-ceos-podcast/



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