Leaders with a growth mindset believe their talents can be developed through lifelong learning, input from others and hard work. Leaders with a fixed mindset believe their talents are innate, or static, and will always be with them. CEOs who have a growth mindset achieve greater success with their companies, employees and themselves. They believe that failure leads to progress. They embrace flaws as opportunities to improve and accept setbacks as part of the growth process.
As a CEO of 19 years, I’ve never seen a better time to embrace a growth mindset than now. The past two years have unveiled seven imperatives that every CEO must develop for personal and professional success in 2022 and beyond.
1. Stay nimble. Get a handle on your fixed costs and determine how much money is needed to run your business for the next six months. Hundreds of thousands of companies across America folded in the past 18 months because they weren’t nimble enough. Particularly for small and midsize service companies, human resources usually comprise over 50% of fixed expenses. Your org chart design and compensation structure must ensure that your business can sustain incomes for every member of your team for at least the next six months.
2. Keep adapting. Business strategy and management practices constantly shift in every industry. In 1960, the average S&P 500 Index company remained there for 61 years. Today, that figure is only 12 years, and the downward trend is unstoppable. The business landscape has never been more fluid, and the pace of change is accelerating. Customers are looking for new services and are finding service providers in new ways. Vigilant CEOs constantly assess what is and isn’t working and make the necessary adjustments to optimize resource allocation.
3. Balance short-term problem-solving with long-term innovation. When short-term pressures or long-term innovation overwhelm the CEO agenda, your organization is in trouble. Running a business requires a balance between short- and long-term strategies. CEOs must plan each day intentionally to make room for the highest priority action items. As CEO, you are the chief visionary officer for the entire company, but your success depends on being grounded in the present. It’s the short-term and (not or) the long-term that must guide your daily calendar.
4. Leverage a peer advisory board. A necessary practice for every small and midsize business CEO is to have a sounding board of trusted chief executive peers in non-competing industries who meet monthly to discuss their top challenges in depth confidentially. If you can trust your advisory board with your innermost struggles, your board will help you beyond what any business book, mentor, or guru can ever teach you.
5. Build the right team. The Great Resignation has shown us that people are willing to leave their employers faster than ever before. CEOs must build companies that attract and retain top talent while designing positions that leverage key skillsets to drive future growth strategically.
6. Cultivate a connected culture in a hybrid-work force. Technology empowers people to feel connected without being face-to-face. Yet, as we become increasingly more physically dispersed, each employee’s emotional needs are more important now than ever before. Leaders must create space for monthly one-to-one conversations (virtual or in-person) with their direct reports to truly understand how everyone feels and discuss how the company can continue improving.
7. Measure — consistently — what matters. What you measure will vary from person to person, but this exercise is imperative for everyone, from the CEO to managers to specialists. A weekly review of key performance indicators for every team member is essential. Monthly revenue and profit reviews are crucial for your company, as are past-12-month reviews. Comparing Profit and Loss year-to-date figures with those of the previous year is also required. By comparing revenue and profits with immediate past periods (rather than with abstract future goals), you focus on the Gain more than the Gap, which fuels the team with motivation and confidence.
Whether you are recovering, restarting, or re-innovating your business, please consider these seven imperatives to reach your Best Year Yet in 2022!