The Complete Guide Every Stuck CEO Needs
Are you feeling stuck as a CEO? And, no, I don’t mean stuck on which client to onboard next or other operations-based decisions: I mean both feet in quicksand with every possible responsibility piling up around you as your entrepreneurial vision quickly fades into the horizon and you sink into a pit of nothingness. No exaggeration intended.
This is a feeling many Founder CEOs know all too well — the desire to work towards a vision you’re very passionate about, but the inability to effectively do so because you have so many tasks demanding your time. Rather than mapping out how to get from point A to point Z, you’re stuck in the minutia of small tasks that build up over time.
It’s time to change that. What if you could truly unleash your power as a visionary, Founder CEO, transforming from a Chief Everything Officer into an Unleashed CEO along the way?
In this guide, I’ll show you how to make that a reality. Keep reading below, or jump to a specific section to learn more.
Table of Contents
|The Chief Everything Officer
|Being a CEO Is Difficult
|3 Roles of the CEO
|Coaching Won’t Solve Your Problems Alone
The Chief Everything Officer
If you’re familiar with the scenario mentioned above, you’ve likely fallen into the role of “Chief Everything Officer” without even realizing it. Rather than vision casting and doing the tasks that fill your cup, your days are spent handling finances, managing teams, and other day-to-day chores that drain you.
Don’t get me wrong — these are necessary tasks for a business to run smoothly: They’re just not the tasks you should be doing.
You may be able to accomplish these tasks and keep your business moving in the right direction, but that’s not what you’re best at. Soon enough, every Chief Everything Officer will experience one dreaded emotion…Burnout.
This burnout often results from one of three causes:
Unmet Expectations — As an entrepreneur, you’ve invested blood, sweat, and tears into your vision with the expectation that it will become a reality. If that reality is taking longer than expected to come to fruition, you may experience the pain of disappointment. Rather than proactively taking steps for the future, you start living in survival mode.
Isolation — Being a CEO is lonely, there’s no way around it. The kudos and support you experienced on your rise to the top have likely faded, and you might be left celebrating small wins alone. In many cases, this kind of isolation can lead to stress and anxiety down the road.
Doing Everything — As I mentioned before, feeling the need to do everything from the top down will only drain you as a leader and extinguish the fire you once had for your vision.
Luckily, there’s a way to combat this, and the answer lies in finding your right-fit counterpart. We’ll dive deeper into this later, but to learn more about fighting this burnout, read the entire article here.
Being a CEO Is Difficult
Balancing day-to-day tasks with big-picture innovations is not a surprising challenge that Founder CEOs face. As your team’s leading force, it shouldn’t come as a surprise that you’ll end up switching between high-level visionary work and smaller tasks multiple times per day.
That’s just the start of it. There are a number of other challenges you can expect to arise during your entrepreneurial journey, including:
Prioritization — The creativity that drives almost all CEOs is a gift and a curse. A gift in that you’ll never struggle to come up with too many ideas; and a curse in that those ideas can run wild and incomplete as you jump from one new idea to the next. Rather than constantly jumping from one great idea to the next, it’s crucial to prioritize ideas directly related to your core mission, vision, and values.
Details – A side effect of constantly letting new ideas direct your actions, you will inevitably miss some of the small details. Visionaries aren’t always able to focus on the day-to-day operational tasks that a business needs to run successfully. And while that’s not necessarily a bad thing, it can become a problem when you don’t have your right-fit 2nd-In-Command to help you step away from the minutia and focus on your vision.
Misunderstandings – You will often be misunderstood as a CEO. As you’re thinking 10 and 20 steps ahead of the current state, it will likely be difficult for managers and other team members to see that same vision right away. Learning how to handle these misunderstandings is crucial for all CEOs to take their company to the next level.
You Need Help – Ultimately, finding your 2nd-In-Command counterpart is a necessary step for every CEO to take. Your biggest strengths aren’t in day-to-day operations, so why should you keep letting those tasks drain you and eliminate your passion? The 2nd-In-Command is actually great at all these tasks you struggle with, and when you learn to delegate tasks more effectively, the impacts on your organization will be substantial.
Take a deeper dive into each of these four challenges to learn how your operations counterpart can help.
3 Roles of The CEO
We’ve established that your role as a CEO is not to do everything. Trying to will only bring you further and further away from your vision.
I get it — that’s a hard thing to come to terms with and admit. This is your pride and joy, and you want to do everything in your power to make it as successful as possible. But realizing you can’t and shouldn’t do it all by yourself is the first step needed to relinquish absolute control.
Instead, begin focusing on these three key responsibilities that executive officers should embrace:
Chief Vision Officer — this is where you are responsible for creating and communicating clarity on where the company is going, why that matters, and what must happen in the next 1-5 years to get there.
Chief Culture Officer — without the right culture, your vision will become unattainable. You must look at culture beyond just a buzzword so you can emotionally connect with team members working toward multiple goals.
Chief Growth Officer — finally, it’s your job to take your company’s growth into your hands and establish the business development strategies that will bring you closer to your vision.
Now, that might seem like a lot, but consider all the things you’re currently doing that are not included in that list: Chief Financial Officer, Chief Operations Officer, Chief Marketing Officer, Sales Director, Human Resources Manager, the list goes on and on.
Removing these responsibilities from your plate and focusing on the three initiatives above is essential in becoming the best CEO you can be. Take a look at the full guide here to learn more about each of these responsibilities and how you can approach them.
The Entrepreneur-to-CEO Transition
Another common struggle we often see among struggling CEOs is the fact that they’re holding too tight to their title of “Entrepreneur.” In other words, rather than learning to captain a team and achieve the next level of scale, you’re still acting as the pioneer; the scrappy leader who thinks they have to do it all.
The leadership styles between Entrepreneurs and an Unleashed, visionary CEO are tremendously different, which is a difficult realization for many executive officers to face. To break it down, let’s overview the 4 Flaw Model that prevents a number of Entrepreneurs from becoming Unleashed CEOs.
1. Impulsive to Reflective
Entrepreneurs have to be impulsive to jump on new opportunities and run with them. However, left unmanaged, that impulsivity can lead to shiny object syndrome and incomplete projects that only confuse team members and prevent scale.
To solve this, entrepreneurs must transition from impulsive to reflective. Taking time to reflect, gather all your ideas, and measure the impact of enacting them will allow you to take a measured approach when making company-altering decisions.
2. Impatient to Focused
Impatience is a necessary trait of all entrepreneurs in the early stages of chasing their vision. Rather than wait for things to unfold in front of you, you pushed the pace and made things happen. Ultimately, though, that impatience has likely developed into a negative for your organization as you’re unable to wait and trust other team members to do their best work.
Turn that impatience into focus to truly identify the tasks that move the needle and help your team learn how to do this work efficiently. Not only will you be more focused on attaining your vision, but your teammates will soon follow suit.
3. Inconsistent to Habitual
Being flexible and adapting to things around you is crucial as an early-stage entrepreneur. Just think about all the pivots you made in your company’s model to get to the product and/or service you offer today.
Left unchecked, that inconsistent mindset will quickly hurt your desire and ability to scale. Instead, the best Visionary CEOs learn how to create habits that act as guide rails for their ideas. Sticking to commitments, becoming a reliable leader, and habitually performing your best are all vital skills to harness.
4. Insecure to Vulnerable
Entrepreneurs have a chip on their shoulders. Whether you’ve been told you can’t do something or have failed along your journey in the past, it’s this kind of mindset that drives so many entrepreneurs to succeed.
Though this is important in the early going, making the transition from insecure to vulnerable is a must. Rather than constantly going 110 miles per hour and sticking it to any doubters along the way, take a step back, ask for help, and trust that the people around you will lift you along your path.
This transition is one of the first steps that all entrepreneurs must make to become a fulfilled CEO. Want to learn more about the transition? Read our entire guide to the 4 Flaws Model here.
Coaching Won’t Solve Your Problems Alone
During the shift from an entrepreneur to an Unleashed CEO, many executives fall into sole reliance on CEO coaching to solve all their problems. And hear me out: training from top consultants is a great asset … when used correctly.
Unfortunately, putting all of your eggs in the coaching basket won’t solve all of your problems. Why? Because of the relationship between integration vs. information.
As a CEO, you don’t need more information – you already have all the skills and tools you need to be a great CEO. After all, you didn’t get to this point by pure chance. But that’s almost always the result of CEO training – more skills, more information, and more tips and tricks than you know what to do with.
So, if you don’t need more information, what is it? Easy – more integration of your vision. I can tell you from experience that CEOs are not overwhelmed because of what they don't know, but rather because they have not used everything they already know to its greatest effectiveness.
This is where we return to our 2nd-In-Command – the person who’s able to see your vision and integrate the policies and procedures that are necessary to reach that vision. Learn more about this relationship in the full blog post here.
At this point, I hope you’ve come to the realization that you need help. What got you to this point – the do-it-all mindset driving your entrepreneurial spirit – won’t get you where you need to go.
Your operationally minded counterpart, the 2nd-In-Command, will. This person can come into your organization under a number of different titles: President, Chief Operating Officer, Integrator, and General Manager, just to name a few.
Regardless of their title, they have one thing in common: they are your missing link, your unique counterpart who loves doing all the things you hate, the person responsible for helping you become a truly Unleashed CEO.