System leadership, whereby the CEO sees every interlinked aspect of their business as a reflection of themselves, is a tough judge.
“CEOs get the businesses they deserve” is a phrase I find myself using over and over again, including in these CEO Sundays missives. The interesting thing about this phrase is that it’s actually not affronting in any way – it’s a neutral statement of fact.
For the effective CEO, this is an encouraging statement. For the ineffective CEO, this is a threatening statement. So please take it that way.
As you read this article, I hope that you are inspired to choose the former and to recognise that the quality of you will be the quality of the business. And that your quality of you is a controllable. A choice. Thus giving you total agency.
In my work, I often come across CEOs who have chosen (consciously or unconsciously) a path that inevitably leads them down a road of standard, or sub-standard, business performance. It’s heartbreaking for me to observe, as this choice leads to so much pain – avoidable pain. Not to mention the loss on the upside.
My encouragement to you is to ask and answer this question very bravely: “Have I chosen the higher-grade path, or have I chosen the standard-grade path to being a CEO?”.
It’s less about the answer and more about the trade-offs of the answer, and whether you are willing to live with those tradeoffs.
Choosing the standard grade path is a legitimate decision. Some CEOs are better suited to it for a whole raft of reasons that I won’t go into now.
But at least do yourself the favour of being real about your choice. And if that choice actually isn’t working for you, change paths. There is a universe of options available to you to get onto another path of higher-order CEOship.