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Confessions Of A New CEO: Lessons Learned In My First Year

Confessions Of A New CEO: Lessons Learned In My First Year



Get 10 tips for being successful in your first year as CEO. You'll hear about the mistakes made, lessons learned, and the successes enjoyed. Identify the traps new CEOs should avoid and increase the ...

Get 10 tips for being successful in your first year as CEO. You'll hear about the mistakes made, lessons learned, and the successes enjoyed. Identify the traps new CEOs should avoid and increase the likelihood of your success as a new CEO.

Michael Fraser, CEO, Association of Maternal and Child Health Programs

Kevin Keller, CEO, Certified Financial Planners Board of Standards, Inc.



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  • NO ONE WILL INTRODUCE YOU – SO DIVE IN: Since Michael and I are here to deliver career advice, we should engage in a short introduction then outline each of our career paths for you. We have very different histories yet ended up in the CEO position of an association. Kevin – short bio/path from first assoc. job to TMA/AFP to CFP Michael – short bio/path…
  • Kevin: You are in charge of your own career. If you aspire to the CEO role, keep these things in mind. Many of you may be fearful to share your career goals with your boss. If that’s the case, let me share a story – (Tell the leaving to go to grad school story)
  • Outside experts are very helpful to consult before you start in your new role. They can help you think through the initial challenges and serve as your “transition team” into the job. CFP Board provided 12-18 month milestones as guideposts for me Manage expectations with family members – you will not be as available as usual during the first 3-6 months. Good physical conditioning helps manage stress and gives you more energy – be a corporate athlete.
  • Have written goals going into the job on day one, along with an elevator speech to tell staff who you are. Speak in generalities at first – set broad priorities then manage performance to them. The hardest things to do: accept your temporary incompetence, don’t try to be the smartest person in the room, wait, listen and ask Be aware of how your actions and words affect everyone.
  • Communication (both ways) with Board members is crucial to success. Start with the plan of most agreement – if long term vision is clearer, begin there, then work back into shorter term goals. Conversely, if short term goals are clear, build and expand them to a long term plan.
  • Using visuals to strengthen your plan is helpful. It allows Board members to see the foundation upon which you will build the organization’s future. Talk about the six pillars…
  • Working with the Board (managing up) is just as important as working with the staff (managing down).
  • The CEO role may require a different set of skills than you have needed in the past. Leading and managing are two different things. It’s lonely at the top – truly. With no peers to bounce ideas off, you need to find a coach who will provide you with the honest feedback you need to hear but may not want to hear.
  • In the beginning it is better to over communicate. Establish a procedure and regular schedule for these communications – this sets expectations of the audiences. Use all the tools available to you and tailor the messages to the prime audiences of each tool.
  • The biggest early mistake CEOs make is hesitating to make necessary staff changes. Questions: (e.g. If you were CEO what would you do? What are you afraid I will do? What should we stop doing?)
  • We will provide you with one example of a core value that resulted from the CFP staff exercise. Then, you will split into groups and create your own list of 5 core values arrived at by consensus to present to the room.
  • Burnout is especially likely in smaller organizations. Train your body. Balance desire to succeed with demands on your time. Show more, do less.
  • Please provide author information for this list and add any others you wish.

Confessions Of A New CEO: Lessons Learned In My First Year Confessions Of A New CEO: Lessons Learned In My First Year Presentation Transcript

  • Connecting Great Ideas and Great People www.asaecenter.org Content Leaders: Kevin R. Keller, CAE, CEO, Certified Financial Planners Board of Standards, Inc. Michael Fraser, CEO, Association of Maternal and Child Health Programs Confessions of a New CEO: Lessons Learned in My First Year Sun. Aug. 16, 1:30-2:45
  • Tip 1: Manage Your Career
    • Acknowledge most CEO positions are filled by recruiters
    • Become known to the recruiting community by using recruiters to fill open positions in your org.
    • Seek opportunities to make strategic contributions as a senior staffer
    • Communicate with your boss about your career goals
  • Tip 2: Prepare for Your First Day
    • Assemble outside resources/team of support, both personal and professional
      • Corp. comm. counsel, human resources experts, recruiters, personal trainer, coach
    • Learn as much as possible about the org. to hit ground running
    • Ask your family for permission to check out for the first few months
    • Become physically fit
    • Prepare a list of listening questions to ask mgt. team
  • Tip 3: Set Priorities and Manage Expectations
    • Draft goals for first 100 days and prepare elevator speech about who you are
    • Give broad examples of first year priorities; set performance review to these priorities
    • Accept your temporary state of incompetence
    • Resist temptation to prove how bright you are; do NOTHING when you first arrive
    • Ask many questions but provide no answers
    • Speak only with respect about your predecessor
    • Recognize the importance of self awareness
    • Engage corp. comm. counsel/distribute key message points to Board and staff
  • Tip 4: Develop a First Year and Long-term Strategy
    • Meet with or call all key stakeholders for information, develop rapport
    • Have a strategic plan/map that is Board approved
    • Establish trust and an effective working relationship with the Board
    • Create a three-year plan with Board input and approval
    • Align operational plans with strategic plan (restructuring may be necessary)
  • Tip 5: Work with the Board
    • Ask the right questions to better comprehend Board strategy
    • Understand Board politics: discover power structures, relationships
    • Visit Board members: Listen, Listen, Listen
    • Engage in routine conversations with Board members, pledging no surprises
  • Tip 6: Lead vs. Manage Overcome the Challenges
    • Leadership is defining expectations
    • Leading leaders is a sought-after skill
    • Management is executing the expectations
    • Friend vs. Mentor
    • Build a diverse team, determine appropriate roles, build trust then let go
    • Get a coach (from outside org. for feedback you need to hear)
  • Tip 7: Communicate and Build Consensus
    • Establish clear communications and build consensus to shape an organizational culture that can achieve its goals
    • Over-communicate omni-directionally with routine CEO share sessions
    • Use the tools: columns in newsletters, monthly Board updates, staff meetings, intranet, blogs, etc.
  • Tip 8: Get the Right People on the Bus
    • Don’t hesitate to terminate or transition staff promptly
    • Develop trust; foster allegiance to the organization; clear up rumors
    • Prepare for criticism of bringing in “own” people
    • Develop critical thinking questions for every staff person
  • Tip 9: Define, Articulate and Model New Culture, Core Values
    • Core Values Exercise
    • You have been CEO for 6 weeks at XYZ Corp.
    • Each group compile and articulate five core values to define the org. culture going forward that will make it a place where people want to work
    • CFP Board Case Study
    • With the help of an outside consultant
    • In 1.5 days helps staff define desired behaviors
  • Tip 10: Manage Your Time
    • Leading is a marathon, not a sprint
    • Burnout can happen
    • You want to prove you can succeed
    • Need to balance demands of CEO
    • May have less “doing” time and more “showing” time
  • Resource List
    • The First 90 Days
    • What Got You Here Won’t Get You There
    • Good to Great
    • Lencioni’s books
  • Contact Information
    • Kevin R. Keller, CAE
    • CEO
    • Certified Financial Planners Board of Standards, Inc.
    • [email_address]
    • 202-379-2201
    • Michael Fraser
    • CEO
    • Association of Maternal and Child Health Programs
    • [email_address]
    • 202-266-3038
    SEE YOU NEXT YEAR! Annual Meeting & Expo August 21 - 24, 2010 Los Angeles, CA