5 Pearls Of Wisdom On Becoming A Better CEO

Every CEO is constantly struggling to become a better CEO. I have been there! Mostly we read every article and book that comes our way, especially if it comes with the new recipe for success. And we are at the look out for conferences and workshops that will help us improve. So we end up with a bunch of ideas, techniques, roadmaps that we need to apply in order to become this better CEO. And as we “try them” we get mix results, we keep the ones that seem to work and drop some.

I have recently retired from a 30-yrs.+ track as an entrepreneur and corporate CEO to dedicate my energy to a different role as chairman of non-profits, and advocate of improving the quality and relevance of our education system.

I wanted to share 5 pearls of wisdom I have collected during this journey:

Pearl #1: Delay Gratification       

In his book “The Road Less Traveled”, Dr. M Scott Peck shares an experiment where children who were able to exercise discipline, enjoyed better rewards in the end. The same applies to CEOs. We need to be able to resist the temptations of taking care of the “urgent”, on prioritizing the short term vs. long term, taking shortcuts or the easy way out, or focusing on what is easy and not on what we need to face. Delaying gratification, being disciplined is a “must” for the CEO who wants to lead his or her organization to extraordinary achievements. You can have the ice cream at the end of the day!

Pearl #2: You Don’t Have To Be The Star

In my early days as entrepreneur and CEO I was under the impression that I needed to have all the answers. What kind of leader would I be, if my people couldn’t come to me for the perfect solution to any problem? Guess what, that is the EGO speaking. In later years I came to realize that what a great leader must be able to do, is to “Ask the right questions”, and get out of the way of the talented people on his or her team. Top that with giving praises where praises are deserved, and you will shine like the brightest star. But you don’t have to.

Pearl #3: Reach Out And Develop Trust

“It is lonely at the top”. Actually it is very lonely. When I became a CEO after being an entrepreneur, I greatly missed the camaraderie, the sharing of visions and ideas and facing problems with my partners. I actually missed the fights we occasionally had. I soon realized that as a CEO, people where very polite around me, extremely cautious on the news or information they shared with me, if they shared it at all. The only way to overcome this situation, was to force myself to get out of the office and walk around talking to almost everyone I encountered, to facilitate team meetings instead of running them, and time after time encouraging my people to be honest and straightforward. Letting them know that “My Bark is worse than my Bite”

Pearl #4. Carpe Diem

I read that every person should have a guiding phrase, a life slogan so to speak. CARPE DIEM, “Seize the Day” is mine. My mind was always projecting me to the future, creating anxiety. Or taking me to the past, creating regrets. I chose to anchor myself in the present moment to prevent it, and ended up enjoying the benefits of focusing all my attention on the task at hand. Being one hundred percent present on what is happening NOW, allows you to enter the “the flow state”, which is a state of peak performance. As a CEO you will end up making mistakes that you will certainly regret and need to learn from. And it is your job to be constantly exploring scenarios in the future in search of risk and opportunities, no doubt with certain amounts of anxiety over the outcomes. However, for a “state of the art” performance, a CEO needs to spend most of his time on what is happening NOW. Carpe Diem.

Pearl #5 Sharpen The Saw

This is Steve Covey’s Habit 7 of 7 Habits oh Highly Effective People. I was fortunate to come across this book in the early years, and have been applying the 7 Habits very diligently all my life. Habit 7, means preserving and enhancing the greatest asset you have – you. I struggled with this Habit the most, as it was not always easy to have a balance program of self-renewal in the four aspects of my life: physical, emotional, mental and spiritual. I lost the balance many times in the mist of severe threats to the survival of my institutions, or in the thrill of some innovative idea we where eager to try. But you may end up paying too high a prize for this loss of balance. I am lucky that I am healthy and fit, have a lovely circle of family and friends, haven’t lost the passion for learning new things, and understand the essence of human life. I owe this to always remembering to sharpen the saw.


Mariana Rodriguez Risco | Presidente Laureate Perú
Twitter: @mrodriguezrisco
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Mariana Rodriguez Risco

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