As a recent CEO, I deployed best-selling author Verne Harnish’s Scaling Up toolsets when I ran a metro-area technology firm over the last decade, including his One Page Strategic Plan, and 10 Rockefeller Habits checklist. I became a Certified International Coach because I loved the idea of sharing the tools with other CEOs, like I do in this monthly Edmond Business column. I’m often asked by family and friends, “So, what’s it really like to live a day in the life of a CEO?”
Fellow CEOs will admit it can be lonely at the top.
Your brain doesn’t shut off just because you pulled into your garage and opened the door to your lovely Edmond home with perfectly imperfect shiplap walls. The human mind desires a transitional moment from work life to home life, so it is only normal that you try to talk about work as soon as you walk inside.
Confiding in your spouse or family over dinner salads can often look like what I call “the nightly dump.” Questions like, “How was your day?” lead to an informational download that could become emotionally exhausting for a marriage if you are not careful. CEOs need an outlet to discuss company ideas, mull over corporate problems, and tinker with innovative solutions while not burdening their significant other (even though sometimes, we all know they have the best ideas!)
Your safe place
For solo entrepreneurs, startups, and small business owners who are wearing 17 hats, they learn early to find a safe place outside their home life for “Think Tank Time.” Some battle Imposter Syndrome or don’t have a supportive family atmosphere for their budding endeavor, so they find a small group of close confidants. They fill “their dream team” with peers who are supportive of their entrepreneurial vision, and who promise not to look at stumbling blocks as anything more than learning curves.
CEOs who have scaled to have teams surrounding them, can begin to look internal to the organization to form their executive leadership team – “The C-Suite” – that comes around a board room table at least annually to strategically plan for the company’s future. As a coach, I highly recommend quarterly, rather than annual, planning sessions to ensure you are tracking strategy at least four times a year. Usually the board room in these sessions are made up of Chief Executive Officers (CEO), Chief Financial Officers (CFO), Chief Operations Officers (COO), and major department heads, such as Directors of Sales, Marketing, or Human Resources.
Why bring others into the fold?
“The buck stops here” as the saying goes. My fellow CEOs know exactly what that pressure feels like to be the top of the bottleneck. When all the bubbles are rising to the top, the pressure is building on that bottleneck until it’s ready to burst like a champagne cork.
When you are at the peak of the org chart, there are many private things you cannot share with your employees and managers. Yet, every day, your servant heart lives at the bottom of the org chart, providing solutions that guide everyone in the company.
You can be left feeling torn for time. Your head knows you need to work “on the business” long-term strategies to steer the ship, while your hands are still swiftly working “in the business” with your sleeves rolled up, getting the urgent things accomplished. But if a boat isn’t being navigated by the captain, can it see the iceberg far enough ahead to avert disaster?
When you bring an Executive Leadership Team into the fold each quarter to have cross-departmental strategic planning, you are still navigating the ship as it’s captain. You’ve merely appointed co-captains for the day shift and night watchmen to relieve the pressure from your shoulders. You’ve added a port, starboard, and stern lookout to alert you of economic icebergs.
In other words, it is nice to finally not be alone on the bridge.
Why a CEO coach?
Every all-star athlete has a coach. Heck, most Edmond high school sports up-and-comers have two or three coaches on their journey to college recruitment. Each coach plays their part with nutrition, motivation, strength training, and tactics.
Business is similar. No, I’m not telling my CEOs the Rocky Balboa recipe for a 6-egg breakfast from a cup, but a business coach offers exercises to expand your mind rather than your muscles. I offer a third-party objective set of eyes and ears during their Executive Leadership Team’s “Think Tank Time.”
I facilitate long-range strategic planning retreats each year throughout North America. Then I provide those CEOs with an outside perspective by returning every quarter to hold each leadership team member accountable to the aggressive growth goals they set during their annual plan.
Just as athletes can study the tapes before game day, we can equally see the game plan on the Scaling Up One Page Strategic Plan, check the playbook each business quarter, and make adjustments on the field to win.
I’ve been blessed to coach companies in Canada, Colorado, Missouri, Kansas, and my home state of Oklahoma. They span a variety of industries including Edmond churches, Software as a Service (SaaS), global manufacturing, marketing agencies, law firms, B2B service providers, automotive dealerships, and energy sectors.
Much like a referee, I ensure there is equal talk time, and everyone knows the rules. Coaches like me call out flags on the play when teammates bring their department bias to the table, rather than the good of the corporation overall.
Do I need the Playbook?
Fair warning. Harnish’s best-selling book Scaling Up is NOT a quick, easy “airplane” read. I don’t recommend it in audible form while driving on your commute either. You need to touch it in your hands and turn the pages chapter by chapter. Why? Because it’s built as a textbook with over 250 index references of all the major thought-leaders on modern business, including Jim Collins, Patrick Lencioni, Jack Stack, and Harvard Business Review.
This business playbook is filled with worksheet samples and pages that will make your highlighter bleed dry. The $2 million to $200 million-dollar firms with C-Suite level executives I coach who are determined to scale up their companies 10 times larger than they are today wouldn’t wake up a day without it.
If you’d like an abbreviated version of the four Scaling Up chapters on People, Strategy, Execution, and Cash as a sneak peak, email firstname.lastname@example.org to request a free copy. Spoiler alert – it is an eight-page PDF with no strings attached. Remember, this Edmond Business column is my community give-back to my hometown who has given me so much over my lifetime.
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About Stacy Eads
Edmond native & UCO Alumna, Stacy Eads, is an award-winning “Most Admired CEO” who scaled her company as a Woman in Tech before becoming an International Scaling Up Business Coach. She now empowers other CEOs from $2M to $200M to embrace their leadership potential through quarterly strategic planning. Her talent is in high demand to CEO Coach, Train Teams, and Speak at Events in both the U.S.A. and Canada.
Stacy Eads’ career affiliations include 50 Women Making a Difference award, Circle of Excellence award, Torch Ethics award, Most Admired CEO award, Edmond Chamber & UCO Mentor, Better Business Bureau of Central Oklahoma Board of Directors, TEDx OKC Speaker Coach, and Ambassador Chairwoman for the Greater OKC Chamber of Commerce.