Faith in Business

CEO Leadership Traits

You might ask, “Where’s he going with this one?” Sermons in the lunchroom? Support of capitalism? Neither, but I might soon take a shot at the capitalism piece given some current political rhetoric.

I consider myself a data-driven, evidence-based guy. “What evidence do you have of that?” is a common question for clients, whether they make a statement about their competition or a belief that they can’t do something. However, some things just don’t have a lot of hard-core data behind them. Some things require faith, whether belief in a higher being or how to treat people. Just like you, some beliefs may hold me back, and some help me succeed. Knowing which are which is the tough part!

Below are a few leadership beliefs I have based on faith more than data. 

Building a highly functioning team (Patrick Lencioni’s model is good) is as important as choosing an effective strategy. The “soft” stuff pays off. Is there data around this? Yes, but it isn’t rock-solid. I have faith, however, that a highly functioning team can be the difference between success and failure.

Dispersed decision making is more effective than top-down, mahogany-row controlled decision making. If you give the troops clear direction and make them accountable for results, you’re better off making decisions closer to the customer. Know-it-all CEOs are full of crap.

Team environments are more effective than family environments. By “team,” I mean meritocracy rules and performance trumps affection — though the “no assholes” rule is a good one. Families are wonderful, but how often is CFO Uncle Joe fired when he can’t do the job?

Accountability with a clear organizational structure beats a freewheeling, “no bosses” environment. Similarly, dual-reporting relationships and “co” anything titles are stupid. Decide who’s in charge! Multiple people owning the same task means no one owns it.

Culture must be managed. If you let it evolve on its own without identifying what behavior is good and what is bad, you’ll have a mess.

People who perform well (e.g., financial or technical skill) but who violate the culture should quickly be shown the door!

Private companies have advantages over public. There are well-run, long-term-thinking public companies, but the quarterly performance pressures and the cost of public compliance are a pain in the ass and cause some silly behavior. 

Intelligence is table stakes in a leadership role, but emotional intelligence is critical. Bad things happen when bad people are in charge, regardless of how smart they are. 

Those are a few of my beliefs. Got any you’d like to share? (Here are a few more in humorous cowboy style.) 

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