Friday, January 18, 2008

Thoughts on First-time CEO Leadership

Since I am unable to get the thoughtful post I recently read by my friend Seth Levine, Managing Director of the Foundry Group and author of VC Adventure out of my mind something is telling me I need to link to it here.

In my daily work I have the wonderful opportunity to interface with sophisticated serial chief executives, the majority of the remaining wonderful opportunity is time spent with founder-CEO’s who often are efforting to wear a new hat as new steps are taken outside of academia or new leaps are made in the corporate setting.

Seth’s approach in his post is the necessary and value-add from executing a CEO review. I’d like to turn this around a bit an offer it up more from a blueprint perspective to what first-time CEO’s may want to be thinking about, in addition to the core business, as they set out to architect the course for their new entities. Incorporating these ten elements into your business building and fund raising approach will add a layer of sophistication that may make it easier for potential capital sources to become more comfortable with a leader who has not previously worn the CEO hat.

  1. Vision: Creates vision and strategy. Communicate this vision and strategy both internally and externally.
  2. Leadership: Ensures the support and execution of the vision and strategy by: Establishing communication of priorities; Driving change for improvement throughout the organization; Team-building; And, creation of a high performance environment.
  3. Operating Management: Develop and execute sound long-term and annual business plans in support of approved strategy. Manage operations and resources efficiently and effectively.
  4. Values and Integrity: Maintains consistent values and exemplary conduct. Promote positive corporate culture to reflect corporate mission statement.
  5. Shareholder/Investor/Financial Community: Serves as chief spokesperson, communicating effectively with shareholders and stakeholders. Become well regarded and respected by investment and financial community.
  6. Strategic Partners: Maintain personal rapport with strategic partners through open, ongoing communications.
  7. Human Resources: Ensures the development of effective employee recruitment, training, and plan programs to provide and motivate the human resources necessary to achieve objectives.
  8. Public Relations: Ensures that the company and its operating units contribute appropriately to the well being of their communities and industries. Represent the company in community and industry affairs.
  9. Board Relations: Work effectively with the Board of Directors to keep them fully informed on all important aspects of the status and development of the Company. Facilitate the Board's governance, compositions, and committee structure. Implement Board policies and recommend policies for Board consideration. Supports a relationship characterized by trust, mutual respect, open communication and responsiveness to feedback. Use Board meetings effectively.
  10. Financial Results: Establish appropriate annual and long-term financial objectives and manage to consistently achieve these goals; ensures that appropriate systems are maintained to protect assets and maintain effective control of operations.
***Update*** Be sure to get your vote in for the CLSDF Readers Company of the Year Award. ONLY TWO WEEKS remain to cast your ballot! Voting ends on 31 January.

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