The CEO Psyche

Having been a CEO and having worked with many CEOs at Procter & Gamble, Clorox and in my years of consulting, I have come to understand the CEO psyche, at least a little. Although they won’t articulate it directly and may not even admit it, they generally want the following 4 things in very simple terms:

1 Achievement or advancement toward their personal goals.

2 Achievement or advancement toward their business goals and often as a means of delivering number 1 above.

3 Validation, respect and admiration for their talents and achievements, generally from number 2 above, but also from activities in the public domain.

4 Less stress, more peace of mind, more time with their chosen activities, including just thinking time and less fire fighting and fewer unexpected surprises.

Of course there can be others, but these 4 generally fit all CEOs.

So how do we deliver what meets their needs?

Again, keeping it simple.

1, They need a plan. A plan for each that crystallizes their personal and business objectives and goals. The plan has to identify the core competencies personally and for the business. Then it should lay out the strategies to be followed and the initiatives and plans that bring the strategies to life. It shouldn’t be complex since simplicity will enable it to actually be understood and used by others and be successful. Having select metrics is critical since what gets measured gets done.

2, It’s all about people. Not just highly qualified, hard working folks who map on to the strategy, but people trained, directed and positioned to use their talents well. This isn’t about development plans or even recruiting. It is about making sure that the company has the means to gain a high ROI for each of their people. I have been amazed at the very high proportion of companies who pay the full salaries, but get so much less than what is possible in results. Getting the right people, not only makes the CEO job more effective, it also makes it much more enjoyable. See psyche point three above for the rewards.

3, Use of technology and best in class processes. Getting this right makes everything else so much easier and effective. Some benchmarking and internal reviews that include the people actually doing the work can pay huge dividends in terms of progress. Getting the right information analyzed and presented in a useable form speeds better decisions. Think about the reams of data available to CEOs from internal and external sources. The key is cutting through it to make it meaningful. This one not only drives the first three psyche points, it is critical to the last one.

Finally, I would be remiss if I didn’t restate, get some professional help. Most CEOs know where they want to go, they just need someone who has been there to guide them and show them how to get there.

Successful CEOs generally mean a successful company and therefore more successful and better satisfied employees.

Win, win, win.

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