Set a clear vision. Get everyone rowing in the same direction. Get the right people on the bus. Recruit and retain a great team and board. Make sure there is enough money in the bank. Ensure the company is financially healthy.
Most first-time executives, even talented ones, are terrible at their jobs for a while.
It’s not entirely their fault. The system — from education to on-the-job training — teaches people how to be workers, not executives.
Even business schools — those elite institutions that claim to be the capitalist farm system — organize around executive-lite terms like management.
But executives are fundamentally different than workers or managers. They have different responsibilities and should have different perspectives.
The problem is when executives act like workers. Although their responsibilities change, their paradigm does not.
This misalignment is a recipe for disaster — and causes great organizations to do stupid things.
Poor executive leadership is not unique to the business world. Look at American politics.
The United States Congress has 535 voting members — 435 representatives and 100 senators. A vast majority of these members do not have executive responsibility. They are workers. In contrast, state governors and city mayors are executives. They are at the top of the organizational pyramid.
So how does a worker become an executive?
- Mind Your Default
- The same thing that is good as a worker is often bad as an executive.
- Read Books (one example)
- Learn through the experience of others.
- Don’t Make Life Short
- Focus on signals, and eliminate noise.
The worlds of business, policy, and innovation need great executives.
The time is now, and the need is great — so if you want to be a great executive at an outstanding company, give me a shout.