Training and Certification

Rubel Khan's Blog

Want to Move Up? Learn to Manage Like a CEO – By Steve Tobak

Posted by Rubel Khan on November 13, 2009

If you really want to learn how to move up in the business world, you’ve got relatively few sources of expert information. And when you’re done with all the MBA BS, the business self-help books, and God help us – the life coaches – ask somebody who’s done it, and he’ll tell you.

Come to think of it, if you think you can learn what works in the real world from anyone but someone who actually succeeded in the real world, well, let’s just say you might want to rethink your management potential.

In the past we’ve talked about all kinds of management tools and leadership qualities, but this time, we’re going to cut right to the chase. You won’t find these five tips anywhere else, since you’re the first ones to read them. Moreover, these are indeed CEO best practices that I’ve observed in few middle managers – those with CEO potential.  

5 Ways to Manage Like a CEO

  1. Focus on critical, trouble areas and leave everything else alone. Successful CEOs have learned to rapidly determine when a direct report or functional area is in trouble. Then, with laser-like precision, they go to work on determining what’s wrong and resolving the issue with all due haste. Because of the focus required, too many problem areas can spell trouble, which leads us to the next point. 
  2. Hire functional experts who are also solid, upcoming managers. The order and choice of words is critical here. You can mentor capable, upcoming managers, but you probably can’t teach them a functional expertise, nor should you or will you have the time. If they’re not eminently capable, you can end up with multiple critical simultaneous problems, which could be job or even career-ending. 
  3. Business comes first. Business and customers always, always, always comes first. Now, that doesn’t mean you let morale get out of control or internal processes fall apart, but you must recognize that the primary function of the business is business, and that means customers and sales. Any manager who doesn’t get that is doomed to mediocrity and stagnation.
  4. Manage up. A critical function of any manager is to provide his boss with what she needs to succeed, and in a manner that fosters a compatible and mutually beneficial relationship. And frankly, that goes for peers, too. If you sense your boss and peers are not getting what they need from you, meet one-on-one and ask. Successful CEOs work with their boards and other key stakeholders the same way.  
  5. Help to “manage the company.” This is a critical mindset that can make all the difference in your career. If you have a strong silo mentality – my group is all that matters – you will never move up. But if you always remember that one of your priorities is to help “manage the company,” then your chances are great increased. Why? That mindset gives you a broader perspective that will indeed help the company and be positively perceived by peers and executive management.   

Okay, so what do all you up-and-comers out there think I missed?

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