In addition to improving results, I was eager to create alignment and
instill team spirit, so I short-circuited my vetting process. I’d started with
a number of candidates, but I only interviewed this one. Everybody was
excited about this hire.
However, within a week, I realized I’d made a mistake. My hire had 100%
popular support, but was also 100% wrong. He turned out to be toxic
to our frm and could have ruined the company.
This experience taught me a big lesson: the importance of developing
and staying true to a decision-making process. A survey by McKinsey
Quarterly found that 60 percent of executives make bad decisions
as frequently as good ones. That stat shows that there’s room for
improvement. I would argue that if you want to be a high-performing
CEO, you must develop a core competency in decision-making. I
believe that all CEOs need to experience this shift, recognizing that how
they arrive at a decision is just as important as what decision they make.
The four drivers in evolving decision-making as a discipline
Today, as an experienced CEO, I approach decisions diferently. I treat
decision-making as a discipline and consciously apply a structured
framework when making choices. My experience has revealed four
drivers that infuence the evolution of the chief decision-maker:
purpose, mindset, rigor, and time and space. The new CEO and
seasoned CEO tend to respond diferently to these drivers. It took many
years to develop and refne my approach, but it allows me to make
better decisions, faster.
1. Ground yourself in purpose
If you’re a new CEO, you may have developed a form of tunnel vision,
focusing on only your department’s goals instead of the big picture.
When you step in to the CEO role, you have to think about what benefts
the company as a whole. That’s one of the big distinctions that comes
with moving up into the CEO role. The complexity makes decision-making more challenging, regardless of company size.
It’s also difcult to make decisions if you’re unclear what your company
stands for. Having that flter is vital for me. When I’m evaluating a decision,
I always ask myself: Does this decision align with my company’s mission,
vision and purpose? Will it beneft the organization as a whole? Does it
accurately refect our values and beliefs? If I can answer “yes” to these
questions, I know I’m on the right track.
2. Shift your mindset
A less-experienced CEO might hold a limiting belief that there’s only
one right answer to any given situation. Experience tends to show that
good choices come from thoughtful processes, and that there’s more
than one right answer. It’s liberating to realize there are many options,
and the best one is the one in which you’ve invested the time, energy
Putting ego aside is also important. Over time I’ve developed the
awareness to check my ego and make decisions based on their impact
on my company. A company-frst mentality provides the clarity and
honesty to approach problem-solving efectively.
The journey of the
maker By Sam Reese CEO, Vistage Worldwide, Inc.
It was a tumultuous time in the business, when I took my frst CEO position. The dot-com bubble had just burst,
impacting our bottom line. I needed to hire a new division head, and received the same referral by several sources. They
were selling this candidate hard. He had the big-name credentials and knew our business; everybody loved this person.