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11 Things Every CEO Should Be Doing Right Now

June 30, 2020

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If you are a CEO, the time to lead is now!

It is a fact of life that the only constant in the world is change. You cannot resist the future you must only embrace it. In addition, as we’ve seen lately, the present can change course quickly. This is why adaptability is such an important leadership trait. I have no idea how long it’s going to take us to dig out of the economic challenges related to the Coronavirus/COVID-19 situation. Anyone who speaks with certainty about when this will end is misleading themselves and others. Until we have a cure, all bets are off.

Sometimes all we can do is ensure a strong foundation and prepare for what comes next. Of course, we must navigate the status quo and ensure that our organization stays afloat. All of this will inevitably involve some tough but necessary choices.  You may have to dig down deep within yourself to find what’s needed.  Planning for uncertainty is much different than dealing with market stability. It requires more thoughtful decisions and smarter actions.  Passivity is dangerous. The right intentions will be critical to your success.  I recommend a CEO take the following eleven actions to ensure the long-term sustainability of their organizations:

  1. Manage your cash flow aggressively and be prudent about any additional investments. Preserve some level of discretionary capital.
  2. Be mindful of your debt levels and don’t dig a hole that’s too deep to get out of later. You should feel confident that you’ll be able to pay back whatever you borrow sooner rather than later. Sometimes it’s better to retreat than keep fighting the wrong battle.
  3. Invest in the skills and capabilities of your current staff as well as be on the lookout for game-changing talent in the marketplace. Strive to be a magnet for the best people in your industry.
  4. Eliminate all confusion around what constitutes quality, efficiency, and effectiveness in your organization. You cannot communicate this enough.
  5. Make sure you’re fully leveraging the skills and capabilities of your leadership/management team. The good ones will appreciate the opportunity to step up. The not so good ones will make themselves known as well.
  6. Ensure your company values are even more prevalent and visible than usual. Look for opportunities to inject them into as many conversations as possible.
  7. Say “no” a lot more than you say “yes.” Prioritization and discipline are crucial right now.
  8. Expand rather than limit your professional network. The more people you know who can help you the better. And, remember, this typically starts with you helping someone else first.
  9. Be very proactive with servicing your top clients. Look for opportunities to solve whatever problems are critical to their success right now regardless of your own short-term benefit. Good clients have long memories.
  10. Be a positive and unifying voice inside and outside your organization. The world doesn’t need any more people who can identify what’s wrong and then make us feel bad about it.
  11. Manage your stress and take care of your health. We don’t know if this is going to be a sprint or marathon so be prepared to run both

In my experience, a good CEO will always rise to the occasion. If it were easy, anyone could do it. Leaders don’t have the luxury of wallowing in the difficulty of their challenges.  It comes with the position. Even mediocre leaders can achieve decent results in a bull market.  When everyone else wants to retreat, you need to step up and press forward. The good news is that once we get through the worst of this, your organization will be even stronger than before all this started. As is always the case, the job of the CEO is to minimize the downside and maximize the upside when it comes.

Are you ready?

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