CEO

CEO, Do You Know What Makes You Happy?

By Melissa Raffoni, CEO, The Raffoni Group

Sorry to start things on on a heavy note, but it's what's on my mind. In the last few months, I have become aware of three suicides of middle age professionals in my extended circle — two c-suite colleagues and one college friend. Simultaneously, I've witnessed at least three executives go through what I would call severe burnout.

At this same time, I see books on happiness and positive psychology taking over the shelves (both actual and virtual). Search Amazon on happiness and you'll see the new releases, like 10% Happier, The Happiness Project, The Secret of Happiness, The Gratitude Journal, etc. A common theme: How burnout in themselves or others led the authors to re-evaluate and find some new strategies for balancing their lives.

As an advocate and driver of CEOs and their success, I would be remiss in this day and age to not take the topic of life balance and stress management seriously. Even when I put on my "let's build a high performing, kick-ass company" hat, I can't turn a blind eye to the fact that good talent, and in particular, millennial talent is asking for the same thing -- a balanced, happy life not over consumed by work and stress.

Bruce Pfau, in his HBR.org blog post, What Do Millennials Really Want at Work? The Same Things the Rest of Us Dosites "The ability to manage my work life balance" as number six on the list of millennial long term goals and notes that Gen X and Baby Boomers rank this desire high as well.

I took the opportunity to ask our CEO and C-Suite clients to share what makes them happiest and/or puts them in "a state of flow." 

A state of flow defined: A mental state in which a person performing an activity is fully immersed in a feeling of energized focus, full of involvement and enjoyment in the process of the activity.
— wikipedia

Here are the top six activities (in rank order) that give the CEO and C-Suite Execs in The Raffoni Group CEO Collective program a sense of happiness and flow:

1)      Active Outdoor Activities (favorites include skiing, hiking, biking, boating and running)

2)      Time with Family (with spouse, with kids "when well-behaved, happy or succeeding", home projects, etc)

3)      Socializing (cooking, eating, drinking and laughing with friends)

4)      Vacations and Traveling

5)      Volunteering (mentoring and coaching)

6)      Music (watching it live, performing, or watching kids play)

My guess is that if you are a CEO or C-suite exec, at least one of your top five favorites is on this list. If you can't list anything that doesn't have to do with your career, you need to work on that immediately.

"How do I get the right balance between life and work?" Commit yourself. Commit to finding balance and take the appropriate action. Start by making a list of the top three to five things that put you in a state of flow. Now, open up your calendar and mark off time to make your happy/flow activities happen. And if one activity isn't that happy because you had a cranky child or fell off your bike, then schedule another as make up. Make it a priority. It's got to be ongoing too, not something you did last quarter. You work it into your schedule, commit and give yourself fully.

"I have to push through the next six months, THEN I will add some 'happy' activities in." Wrong answer. Two of the CEO’s primary roles are 1) to set a compelling, clear direction and 2) to build an aligned, productive leadership team. If you are fried, you are not able to set a clear direction. You will spin your wheels, be less effective and lose talent. 

"This stuff is too soft, next blog please." I get it. Research my past articles. Come to a CEO Collective meeting. I talk about ROI all day long. But, you know that I'm on to something here. So, go be a better leader and play. Everyone in your life will thank you for it. And guess what? You’ll be happier (maybe even more than 10%) for doing it. 

For Mature CEOs Only: Ask Yourself These 12 Probing Questions as You Close Out the Year

By Melissa Raffoni, CEO of The Raffoni Group

As we approach goal setting and planning for the new year, The Raffoni Group team asks CEO members hard, somewhat personal questions we think few people ask. Asking the tough questions and answering them honestly takes maturity. You ready?

Ask These 12 Questions:

  1. How do you want next year to look different for you and for your company?

  2. Are you happy with how you are spending your time, both at work and personally?

  3. How is your health?

  4. How is your family coping with the demands put on you as CEO? If negative, what are you doing to address their concerns?

  5. What was the biggest mistake you made this year?

  6. What is your biggest weakness as CEO?

  7. How much personal compensation did you take home this year and are you happy with that?

  8. Do you like having investors? Would you do it differently next time?

  9. Is there someone you need to fire?

  10. Is there someone you need to hire to compensate for your weaknesses?

  11. Do you like being a CEO?

  12. What do you want to do next?

Just today, a CEO of a 300+ million dollar company told me that the CEO Collective has been invaluable, as there is no other forum where he can share and get input on these topics. These comments remind me of how lucky I am to have this job and how much I enjoy what I do. We are privileged to have these conversations with our members.

In my conversations with hundreds of CEOs like you during the past 20 years, questions like the ones above have uncovered some anxiety points that they are generally hesitant to admit. My goal is not to “expose” anyone, but to shed light on the fact that you have a hard job with many demands, externally and internally. You are naturally driven and as a result, take on superhero level responsibilities. You are a leader who holds your head up high, puts your worries in your pocket and charges full speed ahead with what appears to be grace and ease. But, the truth is, you are often carrying a heavy load.   

If you feel you are doing everything in your business, then you’ve got the wrong team. If you make excuses for not exercising or eating well, your priorities are wrong. If your family is begging for your attention, give it to them. Use the questions above to hold up the mirror and change some things for the new year. Life is short and one thing CEOs are good at is driving change. Make sure you are driving change in your own life to make it all you want to be.

@melissaraffoni on Twitter
mraffoni@raffonigroup.com

 

 

 

 

 

 

CEO Brief: Take a Self-Assessment Based on The 6 Critical Success Factors for Building an Aligned, Highly Functioning and Strategic Leadership Team

For years we have encouraged our CEO colleagues to think beyond the off-site agenda and to embrace the concept of building a strategic planning process that ensures follow through. Now, we are encouraging you to take that thinking one step further.  

Ask these key questions:

1. What can and must I do to deliver on my CEO responsibility of building an aligned, highly functioning strategic leadership team?   

2. How can our strategic planning activities contribute to the achievement of this goal?

The Raffoni Group's Strategic Leaders Program is built on Six Critical Success Factors that should be considered as you thoughtfully craft your strategic planning activities.

  1. A Visibly Engaged CEO Champion

  2. A Leadership Team with Highly Functioning Executive Skills

  3. The Separate Treatment of Strategy and Operations

  4. A Set of Clear and Measurable Strategic Goals

  5. An Effective Leadership Governance Plan

  6. An Aligned and Motivated Organization

If you want a smart strategy and an exceptional team to lead the execution of such a game plan we challenge you to hold up the mirror and ask yourself the 20 CEO reflection questions in our CEO Brief The Six Critical Factors for Building an Aligned, High Functioning Strategy Leadership Team.

Click here to DOWNLOAD the Brief.

 

ADDITIONAL ARTICLES

5 Mistakes Even the Best CEOs Make

Make Mistakes.PNG

By Melissa Raffoni

In your role of CEO, you face tough choices every day. The path is often unclear and even the very best of you can falter. Some of the most costly missteps are ones that can be avoided. Here are five mistakes you don’t want to make:

1.) Thinking you know the answers and not collaborating with other CEOs. In a CEO Collective (peer group) meeting yesterday, one of our CEOs was weighing the pros and cons of accelerated growth, versus slower and more controlled growth. In the end, the group came to some strong conclusions on what to do and not do that were completely customized to this CEOs specific business, its ownership, its industry and his strengths as CEO. This exercise reminded us all of the power of the collaborative process and the importance of vetting big decisions with other credible colleagues who know you and your business. Making decisions in a vacuum is a sure-fire way to fail.

2.) Forgetting that your demeanor, attitude and words matter. A lot. The best CEOs have egoless-confidence. As a result, they often forget that others look to them not only for business direction, but for tone and inspiration. If the CEO is frenzied, the organization will be frenzied. If the CEO is structured, the organization will be structured. If the CEO is entrepreneurial, the organization will be entrepreneurial. If the CEO cares about culture, the organization will have a strong culture. It’s like a parent-child relationship; children undoubtedly carry many of the traits of their parents.

3.) Being too open when setting strategy. The best CEOs are open to the ideas of the stellar leadership team they have built, but the role of the CEO is to set direction. A CEO should walk into a strategic planning meeting clearly communicating direction and vision and then, be open. Most experienced executives appreciate having a place to start when it comes to strategy, especially since the larger portion of their day is focused on their operational day jobs. It also makes for a more productive conversation, which all team members appreciate. The CEO's role is the oversight of all the functional areas of the business, putting him or her in the best seat to set direction.

4.) Getting stuck in the day-to-day and neglecting strategy. In the case above that illustrated the need for collaboration, the CEO was living the pain of day-to-day growth strains. With the encouragement of his peers, he took a step back and what resulted was a more thoughtful plan that tied targeted growth to key strategic goals. Building a thoughtful plan requires time away from the business, the office, the clients, and the blocking and tackling. Not once have I heard a CEO say, “developing my plan was a waste of time.” But often I have heard a CEO say, “I really need to take step back and look at the business, develop a plan and align my team around it.” Bottom line, spending time on offsite planning, prepping for it, and making sure you have structures in place, such as regular strategy meetings, time to work on strategy, and CEO Peer meetings, will ensure you stay out of the weeds and do one of your most important jobs—setting and managing the strategic plan.  

5.) Holding on to the "wrong fit" team members for too long. Each year we ask our member CEOs, “What mistake did you make this year that you wish you didn’t?” Year-over-year, the number one answer is, “I held on to person X too long.” Contrary to popular perception, the best CEOs are often great human beings, which is why people follow them, but this fatal flaw of holding on to someone too long in the hopes of making it work can have detrimental effects. Keeping people in the wrong roles or keeping the wrong people in the organization will create damage that is difficult and painstaking to repair.

 

 

PAST ARTICLES

What a Strategic Scorecard Is and Why You Should Care

By Melissa Raffoni

Ask any CEO, “What is your company's strategy?" and I bet you’ll get a variety of answers depending on that person's definition of the word strategy – ranging from Michael Porter’s classic teachings on the “barriers to entry","differentiation", and "focused trade-offs"...to Webster's basic definition of simply having a plan to achieve a particular goal.   

Define it as you will, my intent in this post is to encourage you to go beyond the definition and understand the importance of building a Strategic Scorecard to support your strategy.

What is a Strategic Scorecard? It's a document—a communication tool —that clearly lists carefully articulated strategic goals with associated measures of success and accountable owners. 

 Ideally, a Strategic Scorecard is:

  • On one page
  • Built through the collaboration of the company's leadership
  • Focused on strategy not the day-to-day business operations or "business as usual" activities
  • Clever, unique and grounded in solid strategic principals aimed at helping the company to succeed in the market
  • Worked on with regular cadence during a dedicated strategy meeting

What can it do for you? A Strategic Scorecard accomplishes a lot of objectives, but three important ones include:

1)   It acts as one of the tools for building alignment and agreement amongst your company's leadership and appropriate level of staff.

2)   It provides a basis for communication, reflection and problem solving, inspiring questions like…Did we get the Strategic Goal right? Why are we not on track? What do we need to do differently to get on track? Should we double down? 

3)   It brings rigor and discipline to teams, helping them to focus on "working on the business" in the midst of their busy day-to-day work lives.

Creating a strong Strategic Scorecard can be a challenge for teams, but it is well worth the effort. It's key to remember that the use of the Scorecard is just one piece of building in an on-going and evolving planning, communication, and accountability process that will help your team to be more effective.  

If the effort put in to created your Scorecard is solid, your outcome will be a clearly aligned and motivated team, a higher probability of execution success, and most importantly—stronger business results. 

Read my colleague Ed Barrows' article, How to Improve Your Strategic Scorecard, to take the next step.

 

ADDITIONAL ARTICLES