A CEOs Big Mistake

blog Feb 07, 2016

"What do I do now?"

Have you said this prayer? I have. Privately, of course. In those moments when we need something, someone, somewhere to guide us, that's when these words emerge. And often, in the next moment, whether its divine intervention, common sense or just sheer necessity inventing our path forward, the leader in us makes a move...for better or worse we take action. This is when we make the big mistake.

Let's stop this movie right here. If you're a CEO, this scene contains an important message that has nothing to do with whatever happens next. The crux of the biggest CEO mistake lies in the question that's written like a holograph in our moments of solitary decision..


The CEO role is unique. Just look at the org chart. Everyone else, including your board, has a "go-to" decider, boss or team. Not you. There you sit at the heavenly, tippy top of your pyramid. All by yourself. 

This is not a good thing but it is a CEO thing. No matter how great a leader you are, or how solid your dialogue with your team, there are tons of decisions that are yours alone to make.

Since we know that none of us is as smart as all of us and that most situations benefit from the insight of multiple points of view, what can you do to expand your perspective? Here's a suggestion...


Self disclosure - I'm currently facilitating a CEO peer group in San Francisco. I am consistently amazed at the power of this forum to yield better, faster decisions and happier, less stressed leaders. If a formal CEO group is not right for you, start by writing down your go-to call list of CEO colleagues. If you don't have at least 3 names on your list, use your network to reach out and build these relationships. Just do it. It's worth it.

Now call one of them and describe an idea or dilemma your facing.  Listen openly as you absorb their perspectives, ideas and suggestions. 

Do this once and gain new insights. Make it a practice and open yourself to a level of personal and professional growth you can't get anywhere else. 

Barbara Shannon is a CEO coach and advisor to mid-market businesses. Her CEO peer groups, TheCEOBoard and ATHENA - The Peer Group for Exceptional Women Solopreneurs, provide high-performance direction, coaching and networking to a select collective of exceptional Bay Area business leaders. Barbara is a seeker of CEO clients who pair a holistic view of business, community, and family with a persistent drive for personal and professional growth.
If you're curious about Barbara's CEO groups or would like to inquire regarding elite private client service, please email [email protected]
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