One key action I talk to all my clients about from new leaders, seasoned leaders, small business owners and corporate execs, is the idea of a CEO session. Now, this is not about the title of CEO, it’s about a CEO mindset. In today’s podcast episode, I’m going to talk about my own CEO sessions, three examples of some small business CEOs and how they run theirs, a couple of examples from corporate executives, and three simple things you can do to step into the leader or CEO mindset.

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Episode Transcript

[00:00:00] One key action I talk to all my clients about from new leaders, seasoned leaders, small business owners and corporate execs, is the idea of a CEO session. Now, this is not about the title of CEO, it’s about a CEO mindset. In today’s podcast episode, I’m going to talk about my own CEO sessions, three examples of some small business CEOs and how they run theirs, a couple of examples from corporate executives, and three simple things you can do to step into the leader or CEO mindset. Let’s get into it.

[00:00:36] One of the key things I mentor leaders and CEOs just like you on, is finding your footing in this role as a leader. When you’re a good leader, the business shouldn’t rely on you 24/7. Ultimately the goal is to set up your business or your team to run effectively without having to be ON all the time. There’s no need to be a helicopter manager. That means you’re free to focus on the things that move the needle forward rather than being stuck, DOING the day to day.

[00:01:05] So have you heard of a CEO session before? Sometimes I talk about it and I know others do too. It’s the idea at regular intervals either weekly, monthly, or whatever you choose you, step back and you put on your fancy CEO pants to get a big picture view of your operation. And you don’t have to be CEO to do it. I recommend you use the CEO mindset, because if you’re not checking in with your business or your organization with dedicated time to focus on moving the needle forward, you’re going to have a hard time to get where you want to go. I refer to this as time working ON your business, not IN the business.

[00:01:42] I used to do my CEO session on an ad hoc basis but I realized eventually that the power of having the CEO session blocked off my calendar made a huge difference. These days I set aside the first Monday of every month for big CEO thinking. That way I know exactly what’s going on within my business before getting into the work myself and with the team. I do another deeper session every quarter, but that’s another podcast episode.

[00:02:09] So, what do I actually do on my monthly Monday? I check it on my goals, I put my eyes on the numbers, I map out the to-dos, and I double-check the trajectory.

[00:02:18] Without this time, I find myself losing track of what’s happening behind the scenes. Yes, I love helping others step into the roles as leaders and CEOs, but I have to walk the walk too. And if you know anything about me, you know I like to do things the fun way. So that’s why this monthly session often includes breakfast at my local cafe. There is something excellent about being outside your normal work environment for these CEO sessions. So that’s a little bit about how I do mine each month. I want to share now a couple of small business owners and then a couple of corporate execs on how they do theirs.

[00:02:55] Here is one small business CEO, Selena. She says she has her CEO nights on Thursdays. The main purpose is to carve out time to work strategically on her business and to move the needle forward on all those nice-to-haves that will benefit the business in the long run. But don’t have an immediate win. For her, because she chooses her times and her hours, Thursday night is the thing that works best for her. For you, it might be a different time or day.

[00:03:22] Haley from Oh My Digital marketing says that “Katy and I have a longer CEO meeting once a month, where we go through our numbers, goals, and any of the big picture stuff”. They also have a shorter meeting once a week, where they go through the day-to-day tasks, like team schedules and anything else, they might need to run by each other. Haley and Katy are co-CEOs and so they quite enjoy having this opportunity to bounce off each other.

[00:03:45] And the third small business CEO is Christine, and she says she does her CEO ritual every Sunday. And she debriefs the week just gone and prepares for the week ahead. She also has a day in the week focused on CEO activities to keep the business moving forward. I have a number of clients that will have a day that is blocked off for no client work and just on their working ON the business days.

[00:04:07] So that’s how some small business clients work. Here’s a couple of corporate executive leadership roles. This one is from a COO, a Chief Operating Officer. For him, there was a really big mindset challenge because he’d always felt his value was putting out fires. And during our work together, he realized that his value is noticing what’s going to happen with the fires before it becomes a fire and how he can get ahead of things. But it took some time for him to be able to prioritize this CEO type session.

[00:04:39] We started off with a Friday morning at 7:00 AM, also at a cafe. And he went with a couple of particular questions that he had to answer or things he had to review. It made it a lot more tactical and as time went on and he saw the value in it, he extended it to two hours. During the week now he’ll add things to his calendar for this “thinking time”. The biggest benefit he has said is this Friday morning at 7:00 AM, is the opportunity he gets to think. All his other time during the week is so reactive that this is the opportunity that he gets ahead.

[00:05:15] And my final example is from a client who was a new manager. And previously she was always DOING. And so it took some time to get into the mindset of the time she needs to be spending is THINKING time, not DOING the work. Because the time that she had to think allowed her to set up what was needed for the team.

[00:05:34] In her CEO session, she set her monthly goals, review them and match the balance score card and then set new goals for herself and the team. She felt calmer and more in control and the team started noticing it too. It was a great way for her to be able to shift from the DOING role to the LEADING role.

[00:05:53] So these CEO sessions, they don’t have to be boring. Go ahead take yourself to lunch or book a massage before after, or whatever you can do that helps you feel like this is something to look forward to. Review the numbers of your team or your business, reflect on team progress, identify gaps in the next steps for yourself and for your team. Block out better boundaries in your calendar. Do whatever you need to do to make progress, because carving out time regularly for strategy and high level planning will ensure you’re actually heading somewhere instead of staying stagnant. And that is why you have the leadership role.

[00:06:29] So what a three things that you can do to help become this better leader or better CEO. And these three tips, how to help you to move into the mindset that you can set aside, time to work ON the business or ON your leadership role instead of just IN the business or IN the tactical part of your job.

[00:06:49] The first one is about this inner dialogue. The inner dialogue is a language that you use when you speak to yourself and it helps push you forward, or it can hold you back. And that’s why it’s really important to address things like imposter syndrome and self sabotage. If this is something that you’re curious about, imposter syndrome, keep an eye out because next month in March, I will be doing a few episodes on imposter syndrome, and how it can hinder us in our leadership.

[00:07:17] The second thing you can do to help step into being a better leader or CEO is act like one. Now, this is easier said than done, right? But it doesn’t have to be. You can start by learning to delegate better versus jumping in and doing it yourself, because confidence comes from taking action. Not the other way around. Confidence comes from taking action. So start delegating small and then keep building from there.

[00:07:45] And the third thing you can do to become a better leader or CEO is to learn from others. It turns out that leaders aren’t just born knowing how to lead. It’s a learned skill. Stop assuming you’re supposed to know everything already. Instead, get an expert to help guide you and join communities where you can learn from others who have gone through, or a currently going through what you are. Now if these three tips feel overwhelming, start with one area and go from there.

[00:08:11] So in today’s podcast episode the really big key takeaway is if you’re a leader or a CEO, it is all about having this CEO mindset. How can you create time in your calendar for your CEO sessions and to move from the doing to the leading.

[00:08:30] One of the key things about leading is being a great delegator. And behind the scenes, I have been upgrading the Delegation Playbook, which means the beta pricing is ending on the 1st of March, 2023. So you can grab it now, if you want to take advantage of the lowest cost you’ll ever see on this resource, which is a hundred dollars off, what it will be changing to in March.

[00:08:52] A second thing you might find supportive for you is that the upcoming Solo to CEO program. If you have a small to medium business and you want a leadership mentor in your corner, delegating is just one aspect of learning to be a better leader, but you can level up on all areas of leadership by getting on the wait list for my program solo to CEO. The links in the show notes. And if you’re just starting on your own leadership journey, particularly if you have a small business. You might be interested in the free online course called Time To Hire that talks you through how to decide if it’s time to hire your first or next team member.

[00:09:29] If you enjoyed today’s podcast episode, please share it with one other leader so we can help to make workplaces better places to work. Thanks for listening.

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