Most of the people who rise to the position of CEO have lots of smarts. A certain level of intelligence is generally required before an entire enterprise can be handed over the keys.
A study from 1996 to 2014 confirms this idea: Nearly 40 percent of Fortune 500 CEOs were found to be in the top 1 percent of cognitive ability.
But pure mind power is not enough to successfully drive the tough move of CEO. People like Jack Welch, Allen Basically and Jeff Bezos have more than impressive IQ scores; They have excelled as CEOs because they understand the unique nuances of the role – much of which involves motivating and influencing people, not just mastering logical problems.
Here are seven mistakes even the smartest CEOs commonly make (and most of which I made myself):
1. Playing cheerleader when the team loses.
A 2013 study by Duke University analyzed 1,000 CEOs and rated 80 percent as “very optimistic,” making these leaders significantly more enthusiastic than the general population.
This is an asset in most cases, but it becomes a big problem if the CEO insists that everything is great when performance is low. Just as a basketball team needs to know scores from quarter to quarter, employees need to understand where the business stands. The CEO must help the team meet challenges with energy and positivity, but they must first acknowledge that the challenge exists.
2. Outsourcing Recruitment to Human Resources.
I once sat next to Texas Tech football coach Spike Dykes on a flight. We got to talk about the similarities between CEOs and head coaches, and Spike told me something that stuck with me. When I asked how much of his team’s success is because of the talent of the players and because of the actual coaching, he said, “It’s 75 percent players and 25 percent coaching. You give me the best players and average coaches, and we do that every time.” Will beat the best coach with average players.”
Human resources are an important ally to the CEO, but the chief executive must take ultimate responsibility for supplying the talent that will help the team win.
3. Emphasizing on making all “important” decisions.
Decisions are the fuel on which organizations run. If you’re insisting on making important decisions that they all cross your desk, you’re stalling your entire operation.
When a decision has implications in multiple functional areas or involves key personnel, it is for the CEO to make it. Otherwise, it is likely that the decision may be made by someone in the organization who has the requisite expertise and perspective.
4. Acting like a “Super VP”.
A CEO acts like a “Super VP” when she spends most of her time dominating operations in one functional area in the organization (usually she has a background). This behavior frustrates the executive responsible for that group, and diverts the CEO’s attention from the bigger picture of the organization. You may have to step in and quip from time to time, but if your working group cannot lead effectively, it should be replaced.
5. Trying to be a Chief Data Analyst.
A CEO who is immersed in the raw data of the entire company, regardless of his cognitive ability, will struggle to find the signal in all the noise. The best CEOs leave data interpretation to the functional leaders who understand it best, rather than let alone try to find the needle in the haystack. Your time is best spent owning the vision, building a team and removing impediments to performance.
6. To be the favorite kid in the organization.
It is human nature to prefer some people over others, but the CEO should avoid displaying a preference for any leader or team. I knew a CEO who seemed attached to his CFO from the hip. When I saw him after the event with this CFO and never seen anyone else from the management team, I thought it was possible—as I’ve seen in similar situations—his other executives in their company were second class. felt like citizens of
7. Not seeking feedback from the Board.
The board is the brainchild of the CEO, and leaves a lot on the table if the CEO doesn’t actively seek feedback from the board. I encourage the CEO to end each board meeting by giving board members a homework assignment: ask them to identify three things you are doing well and three things you can improve. Reviewing and acting on this feedback helps you continually grow into a leader—whether you’re the smartest person in the room or not.
Originally Inc.com. Published on