HR & Management

The most common CEO mistakes to be mindful of

5 min read

07 August 2017

Leaders are often spinning many plates, so it stands to reason that CEO mistakes will happen – these are the most common ones to watch.

Making mistakes as a CEO? You’re not the only one. That’s why CEO mistakes shouldn’t be seen as a negative reflection of your work but something to be learned from.

Through my experience watching previous CEOs and/or company founders walk the tightrope and now walking it myself, these are the most common CEO mistakes of even the smartest chief executive. 

(1) Not being visible enough internally

CEOs focus a lot on external activity like fundraising, public speaking and bringing in revenue – and it’s this that can prompt CEO mistakes to start happening. Whilst these are very important, it’s crucial to remain close to your company and lead from the front.

A CEO must be visible and accessible to every form of stakeholder including customers, suppliers, employees and investors. Ultimately a company’s values, mission statement and culture come from the top and filter down therefore a lack of visibility can be detrimental to the foundation of the company.

(2) Not leading by example

Dictatorship style management rarely inspires a team to perform at their best or create the enthusiasm to build a culture of high performance.

I truly believe CEOs and business leaders should put their money where their mouth is and prove to employees why their ideas and initiatives are beneficial. By CEOs demonstrating company’s values and ethics in day-to-day activity, employees are given something to aspire to.

(3) Not placing enough emphasis on culture

It’s easy to forget about the most important part of your company: the people. Hiring the right people to fit with your company is vital in creating workplace culture that is diverse and inclusive, where people feel supported, have clarity on their progress and feel that the company is investing in each individual.

To feel that there are future opportunities is crucial to maintain morale, drive performance and improve retention. The smallest of issues can send company sentiment down to zero, particularly if people start to be hired for the sake of numbers rather than as the best person for the job.

This is something CEOs should always be aware of if they want to maintain positive company culture. After all, your employees are the pulse of your organisation.

Continue on the next page for the final two CEO mistakes to be aware of.

(4) Not delegating responsibility

A lot of CEOs are control freaks and perfectionists. Although these attributes probably lead them to the successful position they are now in, learning to let go and trust other people with company actions, can be difficult.

Creating a strong management team that understands your ethos and values will allow you to delegate responsibility and concentrate on growing your company.

Fundamental to this is forming a clear company structure, ensuring specific roles are assigned so you can focus on developing how to take your business to the next level and avoid CEO mistakes.

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(5) Not listening to ideas and not admitting that yours may be wrong

Wrestling with hundreds of different ideas and opinions is part of everyday CEO life. Bouncing ideas around your company is important in ensuring employees feel included in progression, but it is a tough learning process.

Listening to others, rather than just pursuing the ideas of the CEO, will generally lead to more creativity and less of a streamlined company image. Multiple brains are better than one after all!

Even if the CEO’s ideas are pursued, if one is to fail, admitting defeat is admirable. A CEO should be selfless and identify what is best for the success of the business. A lot of the time this will involve swallowing your pride and admitting someone else got it right.

Phil Blaydes is the co-founder of Talentful