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Five Essential Guidelines for New CEOs

Team support and collaboration are essential to the well-being of any corporation.  Therefore, if you have just stepped into a new position as Chief Executive Officer, your first priority is to form solid working relationships with your board and staff members.

New CEO Guidelines - businessmen shaking hands

Productivity and loyalty cannot thrive in an environment riddled with tension and inconsistencies.  Regardless of industry, constant clashes with and among team members not only upset the flow of a persevering organization, but can ultimately lead to your downfall as a CEO.

With this in mind, what can a new CEO do to ensure that his or her first year as Chief Executive Officer is off to a constructive and positive start?

1.  Confirm your margins of influence.

It’s essential that you identify the parameters of your authority as CEO in relation to the rest of the board.  Although board members carry a great deal of decision-making power within the organization, they are characteristically involved in multiple outside projects.  As the CEO, you are the directive who provides cohesiveness and order; however, it is imperative that you get to know the existing nuances of the group.  Clarifying and solidifying roles and areas of influence is crucial to your task of leading a working unit.

2.  Always listen first.

President and CEO of Levi Strauss, Chip Bergh, suggests taking in as much information in the beginning as possible. Only then, can you construct effectual and useful questions to direct toward board members and top company associates.  The goal is to ascertain what to keep, what to change, and what is anticipated of you as a leader.

3.  Make mindful changes only.

While you may want to be the CEO who truly breaks ground for the organization, remember that making hasty decisions just for the sake of change or to dissociate yourself from previous leaders is a generally unreliable approach, with often disastrous results.  Allow your board to get to know you before springing forth any radical modifications.  Even in the event that the organization is in drastic need of an overhaul, be sure you are open to compromise and discussion before going forward with any sweeping transformations as a brand new CEO.

4.  Manage and encourage your workers.

Effective leadership encompasses much more than just providing directives to your team, and this is something new CEOs should keep in mind. Former Xerox CEO, Anne M. Mulcahy, stated that the most productive, satisfied, and fulfilled employees are those who believe they are valued by their superiors, not just for their skills, but as individuals. She added, “Satisfied employees mean satisfied customers, which leads to profitability”.

5.  Understand boardroom vs. employee leadership.

It is truthfully not easy to enter a working board of directors as their new chief executive officer.  It’s important to remember that how you lead in the boardroom is different than how you lead your working staff. The “straight-down-the-line” approach of making decisions and moving on may not be well-received with board members who are also likely equally accomplished professionals in their own right.  CEOs must remember to be receptive to other perspectives and ideas.  Learning to transition your leadership habits from outside to inside the boardroom is what will separate an experienced CEO from an inexperienced one.

New CEO Guidelines - business man-thumbs up

In Conclusion

When entering an organization as a new chief executive officer, remember to be the type of leader you would wish to work with and learn from; as the most successful and esteemed leaders are the ones who show not only conviction and follow-through, but humility and accessibility.


Fred Coon, CEO


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