4 Behaviours World Class CEOs Apply To Projects and Life

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Temptation

A Harvard Business Review Article references a 10 year study that discusses the four (4) behaviours that make for a World Class CEO:

  1. Decide with Confidence and Speed
  2. Be Relationship Masters
  3. Be Proactive in Adapting to Change
  4. Practice Relentless Consistency

The article resonated with me as it made me think of how I’ve applied (or not) these behaviours to Projects I’ve worked on and how these four powerful traits can apply to Life itself.

Decide with Confidence and Speed

CEOs that made decisions with confidence and speed were 12 times more likely to be high performing even without all the information. 94% of low rated CEOs decided too little too late.

How does this apply to project work? 

In project work making quick and confident decisions is even more important as Projects have set deadlines. As a Supply Chain Project Manager for my last project, I had to make multiple quick decisions with limited information. We hired outside consultants with one Skype interview; hiring those that asked good questions – an indication of intelligence and interest, I gave the green light (post quick demo) to use a never used (by our team members) data conversion tool , and I had to disperse the work fairly and quickly to 7 team members. Another key decision was to use tests scripts from another project while I watched the Finance team painfully create ones from scratch, which completely baffled me. In project work you make decisions with speed and confidence. No decisions or a slow decisions will kill your project from the start.

How does this apply to my life?

Life is a never ending major decision making process. Buying a house? Having a baby? What have you decided about your health? Stressed? How about decisions on how to spend your hard earned money? Have you decided on that man cave or wine cellar? I haven’t gotten around to mine yet.  Life is finite and the decisions you make today will affect your health, finances, friendships, and family for the short, mid, and long-term.  My best advice is to look at every single project in life and decide what your biggest priority is.  Then decide this week. And do it with confidence and speed.

Be Relationship Masters

Top performing CEOs understand how to drive value to their clients while getting alignment and support from their teams.

How does this apply to project work?

The most important trait a Project leader can have is to ensure the client is happy while getting the best out of his team members.  It can be a bit of a tight rope walk especially during crunch time.  Project leaders also have to learn how to escalate issues to a client and have the client help solve them as well. These aren’t easy tasks and they take vital people skills to be successful. At one client we had a 2-day turn around for client-driven executive decisions versus a 15-day turn around at another client.  We had to pull out our major people skills to bring down the 15-day turn around time as 15 days is an unacceptable wait time in project mode.  Having great relationships skills gets many people out of tight situations and it takes a deft touch to be a relationship gorilla and wear velvet gloves at the same time.

How does this apply to my life?

It’s been scientifically proven with a 75 year old study from Harvard that the types of relationships in your life are the greatest indicator of your happiness and longevity. You can see that talk here. Need I say more?

Be Proactive in Adapting to Change 

Dealing with setbacks and change is a CEO’s life.  Think about the pressure that all retail CEOs are feeling from Amazon and how they are literally trying to stop from going out of business.  The ability to embrace change, analyze and tackle it is another key trait a world class CEO has.

How does this apply to project work?

Projects face constant challenges.  Big ones.  Change is going to happen no matter how much you plan for it and they usually involve getting proper business involvement from the client, changing cutover plans, and a host of other challenges.  The best project leaders mitigate change and risks with a risk management plan.  Holding a risk mitigation workshop is being proactive to change.  Once the risks and possible changes have been forecasted by your Project team members – follow them on a weekly basis.  Risk mitigation sounds really boring but it will save your project time and time again.  One risk we identified early on was the cooperation of third party companies that interfaced with our client.  We followed that risk closely each week and being proactive saved us from potentially missing our project Go-Live date. Be proactive to project changes.

How does this apply to my life?

Life throws us curveballs. It’s not easy to be proactive with this one as loss of jobs, sudden illness or even death are facts of life.  These are not technical business decisions to address or how to get rid of a non-performing team member.  We do our best to live a good life and provide for our families, but in the end change is going to happen and that change is much more profound in life than it is in business.  Embrace life and embrace change, it’s going to happen.  Plan for change as much as possible.  Life is a series of roller coasters – sometimes you are on top and other times near the bottom.  Learn to adapt to life’s changes.  Learn from them and enjoy the finite time you have on this planet.

Practice Relentless Consistency

Relentless Consistency is making sure your business plans, strategy, and expectations are realistic and consistent.  One huge failure I have seen with CEOs is to attempt to create multiple new complex products or execute multiple major projects at the same time.  The expectations and gains from these ventures were not realistic and almost devastated the business. It’s been proven that the most successful business leaders make small incremental steps that add value to their core strategies over a long period of time.  Facebook and Mark Zuckerberg has done an incredible job with small incremental steps.  He bought Instagram and it will generate 4-6 Billion dollars in revenue in 2017.  Yes Mark paid a Billion dollars for Instagram while it was losing money, but it’s a picture sharing site!  He has added small incremental features often to improve it.  Mark is relentless, consistent, and has realistic expectations.  Company’s want CEO’s that have a holistic approach to setting realistic expectations and delivering on them consistently.

How does this apply to project work?

The most successful projects produce a blueprint and scope document that realistically meets the expectations of the client and the project team.  This is the key to a successful project.  The most successful projects also consistently hold status meetings, and consistently review risks, issues and changes to scope or time.  It’s easy to skip a meeting here and there; the next thing you know it becomes a habit.  Another key component for being consistent is to always escalate problems or key decisions to executives in a timely manner.  Having a solid methodology to work with and making sure all team members are always aligned creates for project success.

How does this apply to my life?

Relentless consistency in your habits and routines is the foundation to having a happy and healthy life.  For years now, I alternate between eating oatmeal with fruit and flax and eggs with avocado every morning.  I work out on the treadmill and elliptical running machine every day for a minimum of 30 minutes.  These consistent habits (amongst others) have kept my health at an optimal level. I am also always realistic with my goals and expectations.  I’m not going to run a marathon or become a professional athlete at this point.  I just want to feel consistently good and have great results during my yearly checkups (which are consistent as well).  Practice relentless consistencyin your life and create solid routines and habits.

 

  1. Focusing on these four behaviours as a CEO, during projects or in life will pave the way to success and happiness Decide with Confidence and Speed
  2. Be Relationship Masters
  3. Be Proactive in Adapting to Change
  4. Practice Relentless Consistency

 

As well as being an IT and Supply Chain consultant Terry Vermeylen is the founder of Mylifechanges.com  and Worldclasssupplychain.com and President of Terry Vermeylen Enterprises Inc.

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