Regardless of industry, certain CEO lessons are common to every business owner, and the same lessons are important for you whether you own a business or not.
Benoy Tamang talks to us about the common lessons CEOs learn and the difference it makes if we take these lessons to heart.
Being a CEO or a first-time startup guy is a lonely position. You’re trying to figure things out and take the bull by the horns.
You believe that your product or service or widget will be in high demand. You have a passion for it that no one else shares. Even your spouse likely isn’t as vested in your business as you are.
Everyone needs a trusted circle. Maybe it’s one person or maybe it’s five. Some will be very different and some will be similar to you. Have some people that you can talk to about the pains and troubles you’re facing.
You must have a support system.
Stand up for your business
Benoy talked to a CEO once who admitted to doing everything his board asked of him. He said he never offers any feedback to their requests either.
Benoy suggested that the board would rather him stand up for his business and speak up for the best interest of the business. Offer an alternative and suggest that you’ll execute your idea and report back.
Just because you took money from them doesn’t mean that they own you. They want you to run your business and stand up for what you believe in. You are the jockey they are investing in and they want you to lead them.
A good support network can offer you that kind of valuable feedback. That’s the kind of relief you can get if you have a good circle and cadre of people who provide unbiased input because they have experience and a willingness to help.
Every CEO I run into, every senior executive, has a huge fear-based issue that undermines their performance. It constantly drags us down. It can manifest in arrogance, pride, and blustering of “I can do it myself,” but really it’s a cover.
On the other end of the continuum are people who are paralyzed by uncertainty because they aren’t entirely sure they can carry out what is being asked of them. They worry about making the wrong decision.
Benoy had a past client that hired two executive vice presidents who were older than him and who had significant experience. He feared that he couldn’t help them and that he was subservient to them.
Because they were more experienced and seasoned than him, he felt like he couldn’t talk to them. He was a tech, engineering, and product guy. One of them was a CFO and the other was a sales and marketing guy.
He was paralyzed by the inability to give them counsel and coalesce everyone around an idea.
It turns out this guy had some toxic relationships when he was younger and he carried that into his work situation. It neutralized his capability to lead and guide his employees.
It’s the same fear many of us feel when making prospecting phone calls.
The truth is that we’re all bright and capable and talented. Unfortunately, we suffer from an unconscious belief that originates from our early stages of life when we started to believe the wrong stories.
We’re capable, but we have a sort of alter ego that believes that we’re inferior. We perceive ourselves as slow of speech, impatient, and dumb. We focus on our weaknesses instead of our strengths.
Instead, we have to isolate the truth and recognize that we’re capable of magnificent work. We have to recognize our tendency to sabotage ourselves by listening to the alter ego that continually undermines us.
We have to start evaluating our self-talk to determine whether the things we believe are actually true or just a concern of mine that I’ve internalized.
If someone slams the door or hangs up the phone because he isn’t interested, does that make you a bad person? It doesn’t. It simply means that he isn’t interested.
Very often, though, we assign meaning to the rejections and we believe that we must have done something wrong. We assume it’s our fault they said no.
Be aware of the meaning you’re adding to the things that happen to you in a day.
The same kind of projection happens in our relationships, too. Imagine my 16-year-old son doesn’t get up on time for school, and I immediately leap to worrying about whether he’ll make good grades or get into college.
I get wrapped up in fear worrying about what could happen.
Then he comes downstairs and tells me that he was up all night throwing up which is why he overslept. I’m in real danger of screwing that situation up by projecting my own fears as a parent on to him.
Identify the best course of action based on data rather than projecting your fear onto other people.
It’s pretty surprising to find that straight talk is often absent. Too many new leaders focus on being nice instead of being kind.
Nice involves platitudes.
- “You were great.”
- “That was a great presentation.”
- “You’ve got a great business.”
Kind actually goes deeper, and because it originates from a real concern for the person, it offers feedback.
- “May I suggest that you make eye-contact next time?”
- “You’ve got something in your teeth.”
A kind person goes a little deeper and offers straight talk even when it’s uncomfortable. Nice is too shallow. Nice is superfluous. Kind is authentic.
If you can just learn to believe in yourself everyone will be much better and we won’t be held ransom by jealousy, rage, and fear.
“CEO lessons” episode resources
You can connect with Benoy at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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