It often seems like there’s no one ‘type’ of CEO. Some are strategic thinkers. Some are more operational, getting involved in minute detail. Others are frontmen.
But, however the role might appear from the outside, rising to the position of CEO demands a wide range of skills that are often overlooked. In fact, research has revealed that while many first-time CEOs initially feel prepared to run a company, most realise quickly that they’re not.
So what should you do if you find yourself moving into a leadership role, and you feel unprepared for the challenge? We asked our CEO, Dave O’Flanagan, to reflect on his experience and share his advice for those stepping into leadership for the first time.
Here’s what he had to say:
1. It’s all about the people. The people you hire and the platform you give them to be able to do their best work is incredibly important. This defines how successful you’re going to be as a company.
2. Stay focused. A successful CEO must be able to balance strategy, execution and people management. As your company grows, you learn that you can’t have your hands in every piece of the pie. It’s natural to gravitate towards what you’re most comfortable with, but an effective leader must balance what they like to do with what they need to do. This means hiring the right people and empowering them to take on the roles you can no longer handle.
3. What got you here won’t get you there. In the run-up to securing your first customers and seeing some real revenue, it can feel like the battle is won. But you need to realize that what got you to this point won’t necessarily get you to the next. As you grow, you must be open to embracing new strategies and tactics – and always have a mentor nearby to keep you in check.
4. Don’t forget to make time for you. It’s easy to let work take over your life, but it’s essential to give yourself some headspace. It’s amazing how refreshing it can be. Often, my best ideas come when I’ve created some distance from my work, either by going to the gym, taking a walk or spending time with my family. A business is an investment but so are family and friendships, so make sure you keep the balance.
5. Enjoy the ride. Being a CEO and co-founder has highs and lows, but is the best job in the world. It’s also important to remember why you started the ride in the first place. Hang in there and enjoy it – it’s definitely worth it.