The Pocket Guide to Being a Better CEO

Running a company is tough and it gets more complex when you add additional team members. You then become responsible for the welfare and happiness of these people (as it relates to their work environment and relationships).

But what happens if managing people isn’t your strongest skill? You could hire someone to become your right hand man or woman to create a buffer, but perhaps it makes more sense to just become a better CEO.

6 Simple Methods You Can Put Into Practice Today

Some might say that being a respected and effective leader can’t include likeability. I don’t agree. I think you can be effective and respected. Here are a few qualities of great CEOs that I’ve had the pleasure of working with the past few years.

Be Firm But Fair

Just because you want to be liked doesn’t mean you shouldn’t have strong opinions about the direction of your company. The same applies to the day-to-day operations and decisions that affect your financial bottom line.

If someone isn’t performing to your standards, it’s your job to let them know. However, this doesn’t mean you have to berate them or their skills. It’s best to be honest and direct with what you expect, what you feel is lacking, and then give them an opportunity to correct their behavior.

Recognize and Reward

People love to be recognized for their achievements. It creates a sense of pride in their job and has been shown to increase productivity and performance. Unfortunately this gets missed more often than not during the daily grind of growing a business.

My advice is to make rewarding a recurring task on your calendar. It could be as simple as a one-on-one conversation thanking someone for the work they’ve done, or even a company-wide celebration on a job well done.

Work Harder and Smarter

This section could have also been titled “Lead by Example“. Have you ever worked for a company whose CEO or other leaders didn’t seem to work as hard as anyone else on their team? It’s not necessarily a bad thing because sometimes people just aren’t aware of what a CEO actually does.

This is where transparency can come into play. By letting your team know what it is you’re working on, whether its product development or business deals for growth, they become aware that you are actively involved in the security of their employment future.

Be a Better Listener

Maybe you’ve heard of Kaizen? In short, it’s the practice of continuous improvement. I first heard of Kaizen when I worked for a subsidiary of They acquired the company I worked for and for the first several months there were in-person meetings between the new General Manager and employees from every team within the company.

This was a huge change from the previous disconnect in communication between owner, management, and employees. The end result was that everyone in the company felt like they finally had a voice and their opinions (complaints and successes) were being heard.

When your employees know that you will truly listen to their concerns and ideas, they become a part of the growth team of your company and not just someone waiting for their shift to end.

Be Genuine

No one likes lip service. Especially when it pertains to their work tasks or environment. Your people work for you by choice and if they feel like the truth is being hidden in any way, it can easily foster feelings of discontent and apathy for their job.

I’m not suggesting that you need to wear your heart on your sleeve, but rather that when you do interact with your team that you do it honestly without ego. We’re all people and the sooner you make a genuine connection with someone, the sooner you’ll gain the respect and workplace efficiency you want and need.

Stay Positive. Always.

Easy to say, sometimes difficult to practice on a daily basis. However, it’s been proven time and again that a positive workplace increases productivity and loyalty. And it all starts with the person leading the team, the CEO.

This is especially important when your company is going through a tough time. Perhaps you’ve had a failed product launch or a competitor just acquired a good portion of your business. Things happen but that doesn’t mean the business is failing. Most times it just means you need to pivot and move forward.

By continually putting a positive spin on seemingly negative situations, you can help to avoid the tendency of people to fear the worst. If you need a little help staying positive, try these 5 steps to being more positive daily and apply them to your work routine.