Many CEOs miss out by not implementing a board for their company.As a CEO coach, here are some keys that i can share in creating a high-performing board:
1. Know what a board does: The board advises and helps hold accountable the CEO and leadership of a company. The Board of Advisors can be comprised of any mix of internal and external members the CEO wants.
2. Recognize difference between Board of Advisors and Board of Directors: This hit me while I was speaking to a group of EO members before a Berkshire Hathaway shareholders meeting in Omaha. A Board of Advisors cannot fire the CEO while a Board of Directors can. This difference calls for different people on each type of board, and it’s important to scout for them differently.
3. Have a clear painted picture: The more clearly a CEO paints the picture for the board, the better advice the board will give. See more on that here. You want the board to be thinking ahead of where the company is today. Too often board members get embroiled in tactical, day-to-day or urgent matters when their time would have been better spent discussing the balance sheet, or how they’d handle things like massive currency fluctuations, recessions, continued hyper-growth, etc. One of the board’s goals should be to stay ahead of the vision of the company.
4. Find the right people: Look for company builders for your board. Too many people make the mistake of putting lawyers and accountants on their board, whom tend to give advice around why you shouldn’t do things versus what you should do. Entrepreneurship is risky, and taking advice from employed lawyers and accountants can significantly stifle your growth or misdirect you.
5. Get a 3-5 year commitment: Stack your board with company builders that are LONG TERM. This will cause them to have a vested interest in the outcome and allow them to get deeper into the psyche of the company. Fly-by-night experts should only be used for certain tasks, not long-term projections and ongoing advice.
6. Surround yourself with giants: Taking advice from people who have led companies larger than yours is critical as you grow, and the complexity of your systems and strategic issues evolve. Find people that intimidate you a little bit. This will cause a reverence and respect, and it will be easier to take their advice.
I have begun to really see the power of focus in the past few years of coaching and mentoring CEOs. It’s not about working five days a week. It’s not about working sixty hours a week. It is about setting goals at the start of each quarter, month, week and day to stay focused. If you stay focused and work on the critical few things, instead of the important many then you don’t need to work Fridays. If your employees were this focused you wouldn’t need to ‘hold them accountable’ or need them to come to the office Monday to Friday. It’s about the results stupid! Why are you working Fridays? Seriously…
Some say I’m not a good listener – but I sure try. I’ve actually learned a ton about listening over the years of being a CEO coach. I’m actually a great listener when I shut up and don’t cut people off while they are talking.
This is a photo of Katie Reiach, Founder of www.SparkGroup.ca and I. She’s the woman who led the PR Team of 6 people for me at 1-800-GOT-JUNK? when I was there as COO years back.
As Katie put it when she sent me this photo from a www.TEDx.com event – it’s a slightly traumatizing photo of both – but it’s proof that I listen Especially when there is something to be heard.
In Jim Collins book Good to Great, he describes the process of hiring as getting the right people ‘on the bus,’ the wrong people ‘off the bus,’ and ‘everybody in the right seats.’ He just never really explains how to make all of that happen.
Collins also talked about the ‘Merry Pranksters’ who drove around the United States back in the early sixties on their bus called ‘Further,’ tripping on acid. I’m not suggesting that you trip on acid to build your business–you’d get some weird press and some truly unexpected consequences if you did–but Collins talks about this group because when they were planning the trip around the United States that would last a year, they needed to make sure they only had people on the bus that they wanted to spend time with, and with whom they could have meaningful experiences.
In addition to finding the right people, the Merry Pranksters needed to get the negative people, the low performing people, or the high performing people who had bad values, off their bus. Collins does a good job of using the Pranksters as a model for building your team.
It’s worth adding that business people do not obsess enough about the wrong people getting off the bus. This is crucial to completing Collins’ final step in the process, which is getting people into the right seats.
As a business coach and mentor, I help companies get the right people into their organization and the wrong people out of it, so they can begin to really drive the business faster and further.
As a business coach mentor, I always get asked by entrepreneurs around the world what my favorite business books are. I might as well put them out there for everyone right now to save me time later (yes, next time I’m asked I’ll forward the link to this post)… (EDIT – I guess I should at least now add Double Double to this list, as it took me over two years to write it for you – and it’s now being used by companies in 20 countries)… You can get Chapter 1 for free at that link too…
Start with Why by Simon Sinek – You need to read this if you want to build a fantastic company. And I can’t see anyone being happy in their work life until they are clearly working on their “Why” too. I’m living mine, ‘Helping entrepreneurs make their dreams happen’.
E-Myth by Michael Gerber – This book will help you move from being a start up to where you are leading a company that can run without you doing or knowing how to do each task or job.
Rockefeller Habits by Verne Harnish – This in my mind is the single most important book that EVERY entrepreneurial company and their teams have to read. Re-read it when you’re done. And ensure your team re-read it yearly until you’re doing everything in it properly. If you are doing everything this book has to offer then I’d say it’s OK to move on and read another business book.
Good to Great by Jim Collins – In many ways I think this book is one that companies need to read when they’ve hit $25 Million in revenues and not earlier. The concepts are the best I’ve ever read. However in many ways I think entrepreneurial companies need more tactical content.
The One Minute Manager by Ken Blanchard – In my mind simply the best book on leading people. I first read it in 1986 and being a business coach and mentor, I have all my clients read it too. Combining this book with Situational Leadership (the content developed with Dr Paul Hersey will transform any company). It’s still current today.
Trends by Tom Peters & Martha Barletta – This book rocked me into realizing that women make so many of the buying decisions and we’ve been focusing our selling to men. A must read for anyone in the services space.
The Power of Full Engagement by Jim Loehr – This book is what broke me from my workaholic doom loop. It will help you realize that work/life balance REALLY is key to growing a great company.
Atlas Shrugged by Ayn Rand – Every business person has to read this book. It’s time we really see the entrepreneur as the hero and realize how much government is crippling our nations today. Gov’t should serve the people not strip away all their earnings and make it harder for companies to grow.
Man’s Search for Meaning by Victor Frankl – While it isn’t a business book it will show you how much the human spirit can overcome and why you’ll overcome every struggle you encounter if you’re clear on what life is really all about. This is a great read before or after Start With Why.
+1 More — Endurance: Shackleton’s Incredible Voyage by Alfred Lansing – The Riveting true story of Ernest Shackleton that will rock your world. Simply the greatest book I’ve ever read. Tons of leadership lessons from this if you need them too but it’s also a fantastic read. Steve Jobs bought a copy for every employee at Apple. My grandfather Cam Shortts, who was one of the most voracious readers ever said it was his favourite book of all time. Years ago I bought a copy for EVERY franchisee and it blew them away. When you see what they endured you will KNOW that you’ll build your dream too.
Enjoy. Frankly, I think business owners spend FAR too much time reading business books and not enough time putting the business lessons they learn deep in place in their companies. I took 24 months off business book reading. Now for every 1 business book I read I next read 4 for fun.
In my second year of university I took an organizational behavior course. One day my professor was teaching us how to hire people. I remember thinking, “This is stupid. It’s all textbook stuff that he’s just reading to us. I’ll bet he’s never interviewed or hired anyone.” So I threw my hand up and asked him point-blank, “Um, have you ever actually interviewed or hired anyone?”
“No, have you?” He replied. Uh, wrong question!
I replied, “Yes, in fact, I have. I have nine people working for me now in a house painting business I started.”
The whole class turned around to look at me after my response, and right then and there I began teaching people how to hire great employees as I went on a fifteen-minute diatribe of what it’s really like to hire awesome people. This is the time I actually started using my business coaching and mentoring skills.
I didn’t become BFFs with the prof, but I got a cute girl’s phone number and serious classroom clout.
Just a quick reminder to put down the books and start doing it – you’ll learn more than the books can teach you.
Have you ever observed an athlete right before a competition? The next time you watch the Olympics take a look at the high jumpers. You’ll see many of them standing very still just before they start running to the bar. Then they’ll close their eyes and you’ll see their head bobbing up and down as they imagine running up to the bar—but they haven’t even moved. Sometimes they even throw their head backwards a bit as they jump over the bar in their mind. Then they open their eyes, stare at the bar intently, and begin to recreate in real time what they just visualized. Downhill skiers do this too–they’ll use their gloved hand to pretend to ski the entire course (some imagine it quite realistically in their minds, and you’ll see them respond physically to imagined obstacles on the hill). Whatever the sport, these athletes are using visualization to achieve their desired results, and by imagining the obstacles they might face, they prepare themselves mentally and physically for the challenge.
The visualization techniques used by athletes should also be applied to business. I’ve had enormous success with the process after learning about it from an Olympic coach and sports psychologist. This coach worked with high performance athletes to help them visualize their task prior to the event taking place. He showed us a variety of examples of where athletes using a process of visualization would so strongly ingrain the success and actual performance of the event into their mind, that when they competed, they simply recreated the vision they’d burned into their memory bank. They could, in fact, ‘see themselves’ competing, and as a result, their vision of success became a reality. This has been core to my mentoring and coaching CEOs.
There is a popular misconception that PR should be considered a part of the marketing department. Believing that story is a big mistake. Public relations, in the way that I’ve been doing it for 22 years, is a sales role and you need to treat it accordingly. Typically, marketing & communications people are not wired the same way as sales people…and it takes the mindset of a salesperson to excel at PR.
If PR is a part of sales, then the good ideas that you give to the content producers are freebies (a popular sales tool). People may love free stuff, but nobody likes a gift with a really long instruction manual; which is why writers don’t like receiving press releases or being assigned to a story. Rather, they love to be inspired and write about something they relate to.
With my business coaching and mentoring system, you can have the media on your side, happily furthering your campaign. Remember: writers, photographers and other media professionals are always looking for the next great “cover” shot. Give them one and they’ll be thanking you.
Over the next three posts in regard to PR tactics, I will explain how to find the ideal angle for your story, select the right publications, and start a dialogue with the right people.