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3 Things Your CEO Wants from You


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Written by: Sean Burke | KiteDesk

Do you ever wonder what your CEO is thinking? Does she like you? Does he think you are doing a great job or are you just “meh”?  I’m sure you’ve at least thought about it.

Obviously, not all CEOs are the same. Some are quiet and analytical, others are gregarious and the ultimate company cheerleader, and some are just plain (cough) jerks.

For most companies, having a talented team is the No. 1 priority for a CEO. You think it’s about vision and strategy, but you have to get the right people first. – Andrean Jung, Grameen America

No matter what their style, there are (3) things that CEOs want to see in each of their team members. In order to put your best foot forward you should show your CEO that:

#1. You are committed.

The smaller the company, the more you need to be committed to the cause and the mission of the business. Leaders want to know that you are thinking and acting like an owner. They want to see and feel you trying your best to solve problems and accomplish goals.

“Employee engagement is the emotional commitment the employee has to the organization and its goals. This emotional commitment means engaged employees actually care about their work and their company. They don’t work just for a paycheck, or just for the next promotion, but work on behalf of the organization’s goals.” – Kevin Kruse 

Why is this important to the CEO? Business is much like a never-ending war. Every quarter you go out for battle and at 12:00 a.m. on the last day of that quarter, you clean up your uniforms, put them back on, and start all over.

CEOs know that the smartest, or even the most skilled, teams often don’t win. Many times, the victor is the team with the most commitment. As he or she is walking the halls of your office, they are looking to see that each employee is in the battle, fighting with all their might. The CEO needs your commitment – it is essential for the company’s survival – so of course it will be top of mind for them.

Companies with engaged employees, outperform those without by 202% (Source: Dale Carnegie)

How to show your commitment: First of all, if you are not committed to your company’s cause – leave. Leave as fast as you can. It’s good for neither you, nor for everyone else with whom you work. 

If you are committed, here are a few tips to genuinely express it:

  • ALWAYS make eye contact with your executive leadership. With your expression let the CEO know that you are ALL IN. When you are in a group meeting do the same. Be present – don’t stick your face into your mobile phone.
  • Attend your company events. Be in the pictures. Wear your company colors. Fly the company flag.
  • Do what others will not. Help clean up after a company event. Know your mission and company values. Join a company committee. Give feedback.

Work harder than everyone else. I know this may be passé, but the best way to show your commitment is to work your butt off.

#2. You can be trusted to “Handle It.”

Trust is probably the most important thing that Executives want from their team. There are thousands of decisions and actions that take place in a business, daily. Your CEO needs to trust that your part of the business is handled.

My three favorite words are: I’ll handle it. And, when I trust that theperson will actually do that – that is joyful!

Why is this important to the CEO?  A recurring dream of many business leaders is that the company is achieving its goals, its people are happy, its investors are thrilled, it has no legal issues, it’s ahead of its competition and that there isn’t someone waiting outside their door waiting to drop a bombshell on them that puts everything into chaos mode.

This is a dream for a reason, because things are rarely ever in harmony as I described earlier.   So, by you handling your part of the business, it allows the CEO to focus on other areas of the business that aren’t operating effectively.

How can you show that you can handle it? I’m going to share with you some tips below. Before I do, I want you to take a minute to imagine yourself as your CEO. Picture yourself in her position, seated across from you, preparing for a discussion on your performance. Think of your responsibility and performance in the context of how he or she may see it.

With that in mind, here are some tips:

  • When you commit to delivering something that will be seen by the CEO, make sure that:
    • You complete it early and have it vetted by others to ensure that it is up to par. NEVER make a CEO ask you a second time for something – No, No, never!
    • It is 100% accurate. ZERO errors of any kind.
    • Make sure that the document/dashboard/etc. does not require guidance to read.
  • Within your department, solve problems; don’t be the problem (duh – I know).
  • Don’t say yes to a timeline or commitment until you scope it out and are sure you can deliver.

Make sure that your role has clearly defined goals (measurable goals) – and make sure you hit them – every single time. Predictable performance is better than roller coaster performance.

#3. You are not all about you.

I might be a tad unusual in this “want,” but personally, any team member of KiteDesk who puts their wants higher than that of the company’s – then they aren’t right for us. This is as much about culture as anything else I have written about.

Why is this important to the CEO? First, building a company where people trust one another and show each other respect needs to have a foundation that is built on the belief that we are doing this together.

Self-centered, “me vs. we” team members erode the trust that is necessary to make the fight worth fighting for.

I also have experienced that people who put their own wants above others tend to jump around. The next company who will bend to their wishes or be wowed by their talent will do whatever it takes to hire them. This same company will regret that decision the day that person walks out the door for the next sucker that is willing to show preferential treatment to one person.

How can you show that you are a “we” person? Well first, you have to be one – that is the cost of entry. So assuming that you do put the company’s needs first then, here are some tips:

  • Don’t ask what you can do to help – just help. Find areas within the business that you can assist and offer your time and expertise.
  • Consider other people’s vantage point before you react. Think of the greater good when dealing with issues.
  • Be humble – give credit vs. taking it. Be gracious.
  • Don’t ask for, or expect, special treatment.

I realize that many company cultures would not support what I am saying. Which is fine – thank God I am not a part of them 

As an acting CEO, I love to see my team (our team) enjoying our work. It’s fulfilling to see how proud they are of their accomplishments. It’s encouraging to witness them working together to solve problems and taking ownership for their contributions. I’m so fortunate to work with a group of people that are driven to help salespeople drive results they never thought possible.

If you have any questions about “The CEO Mind” — connect with me on LinkedIn – I’ll do my best to respond to your questions.

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