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The only two questions a CEO should be asking

Question 1: What do I want for my business?

Question 2: What do I need to learn?

These are nuanced questions and a glib answer is probably the wrong answer. 

What do I want for my business?

This is not just about results, goals or financial performance. All of those outcomes are useful and necessary but don’t tell nearly the full story of what a business can be. What truly drives business performance is how a business is shaped or constructed: a collection of organisational assets that dance together. This is what a CEO needs to be ultra-specific about in forming a nuanced, layered view of what they want for their business. There is way, way more to this question than meets the eye, so please don’t gloss over this. Unless a CEO has a very nuanced and substantial answer to this question, you risk building a business that underperforms because it is undistinctive.

What do I need to learn?

If a CEO doesn’t have a clear learning agenda, the aspirations in Question 1 are unlikely to manifest. This speaks to the complexity of the CEO role and what it requires to be successful from the CEO ‘seat’. The requirement of a CEO is permanently on the move – what worked last year will work less well this year. If you think that’s an exaggeration, trust me, it’s not. Not only is the CEO expanding horizontally (more to know) but it’s expanding vertically (more complex). There is a constant requirement to keep adding to a CEO skill set and it’ll always be this way. 

Your response to these questions will reflect your growth-mindset, which is what separates the great CEOs from the average CEOs. It’s the first thing I look for when working with a new CEO client as it determines how the engagement will play out. No hunger for growth = no learning = no value. I’m biased because I’m a teacher at heart and value learning by default. But unearthing a growth mindset and acting on it by way of these questions is a truly fulfilling, fun experience. It’s not a chore. 

Given what rides on the quality of your answers to these questions, and the value creation that lies within your answers, it’s a no brainer to jump at these kinds of sophisticated questions with energy and hunger. 

Find someone to work with to help you address these sorts of questions in a high quality way and to help you form and then tackle a personalised learning curriculum. It might appear to be overkill at first blush, but actually it’s merely a ticket to the CEO ‘game’.

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