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The 6 Roles of the CEO // How Strategic Planning Helps

By Anthony Taylor - March 01, 2022

SME Strategy is a strategy consulting company that specializes in aligning teams around their vision, mission, values, goals and action plans. Learn more about how we can help align your team with our strategic planning and implementation services.

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Hi, there, my name is Anthony Taylor, I'm the Managing Partner at SME Strategy. Today I want to talk to you about the six roles of the CEO, and how strategic planning helps.

So as a CEO, you have different hats, you have different jobs to do. It's kind of the balance between strategic and operational. But if we looked at the ideal CEO role, and what the CEO probably is spending most of their time on, I want you to consider how much of your time is being spent in those areas. And as we move into a new season of strategic planning, where are you spending your time, and is it the most effective way?

The other thing I want to talk about is how strategic planning and building in a strategy implementation process within your organization is going to help you accomplish many of these goals and help you wear all of these hats successfully. So let's get into it.

So company strategy. I mean, it's pretty obvious as the CEO of a business or organization, you need to be leading your company strategy. So creating the long term vision for where your company is going. Setting goals that people will be wanting to work towards, and be motivated and bought in to do. And then determine how resources are going to be allocated. So if you aren't clear about where you're going, and you aren't clear about how you're prioritizing, how are you going to expect the rest of your team to know what they need to do? So your main job as a CEO is to be leading the strategy and supporting those that are implementing it. So you need a strategic plan to be able to do that successfully.

Next is leading the leadership team. So you have the company vision, next, you have to lead the people within it. So as part of that, improving your team's ability to work together and be successful. You have to make key decisions around hiring, firing, recruiting - and you probably have HR to support you with that. But within your leadership team, you know who you need around you to support you accomplishing what you need to accomplish. So making those decisions of how you're building your structure in conjunction with your team are critical. And again, if it's towards accomplishing a vision, then you're going to build the skills to do that - it's not arbitrary, it's structural (to help you get where you want to go). And then develop the management processes and procedures. How do you want your teams to be driving the vision forward? All leaders, all managers have their preferred cadence, preferred structure, preferred system - with inspiration and input from the leadership team. But you have to make it your own, because that's how you perform. And that's how you've performed in the past.

Next, is aligning the entire organization. I tell teams, there's more employees than there are of you. And so if all you do is focus your alignment at the leadership team level, you're missing out on hundreds or 1000s of staff members that really need to know what the vision is, why it's important, how their role plays into it. So being able to create a strategy and create a vision that aligns the team, culture, and values so that you can move forward and implement what you want to implement. Shaping the culture of the company, through values and behaviors that you want to see, that you model, and that you live every day. And again, your leadership team can't do that. If it's not modeled and guided by you, there just won't be by him. And then organizational design is really seeing the entire company for what you want it to be. And then creating and rolling out and cascading the vision from there.

Next - this may apply to varying degrees for small businesses, medium businesses, large businesses, but being the face of the company. Being the figurehead for the public. Now, the public might be, if you're a small business, your direct customer. And if you're a larger public company, you know, you're the person that's on calls and making sure that you're representing the company effectively. So that might mean if there's a crisis and you have to talk to core customers or stakeholders, it may require you to be interacting with the public and media, so that people know who you are and begin to like you.

Now, strategic planning supports you in that because when you have a clearer idea of where you're going, it helps you communicate it. You'll have clear messaging as to your core purpose. And so that'll be front of mind. And then you'll also be more prepared with what you want to say, so that other people will get bought in to where you go. So being able to strategy plan and strategy communicate is critical to getting buy-in from broader stakeholders. So whether that's the market, or whether that's your customers, anybody that's working with you needs to know where you're going. And you need to know where you're going before you can do that successfully.


Do you need to do strategic planning, but you've move


Next - this may apply to most of you, but your relationship with your board - your ability to work with your board. So building the relationship and supporting your board, that includes your board chair or employee board members. The CEO and the board need to be partners. Well, one of the best tools to support that partnership is a clear understanding of where the company is going, and how the performance will be measured. So as a CEO, you need to be able to lead up and support your board in doing their role.

So be clear on the vision, be clear on the mission/purpose, be clear on the strategic priorities and investments. That way, when they have to make important decisions that are going to affect your job, you've got buy in, they want to support you, and you've made it easy for them to make that decision. If your data is murky, if your reasoning is murky, they're going to go with what I'll call the safest option - which is doing nothing, because they don't have the right information to make the right decision. But if you can make that clear tie in between, here's what we're doing, here's why we're doing it, and here's why it's a good decision long term, you're going to have greater likelihood of success to move that forward.

Next is personal working norms. I'm recording this in late 2021. So you might watch this 2022/23. But one of the big, big challenges facing teams right now is being overloaded, overwhelmed, and just so much stuff on your plate. So as a CEO, and as an Executive leader, you need to be able to manage your time and energy. It means that you're spending the right time doing the right things. Working on strategic things, as well as operational (as needed), but also conserving your energy so you're not burning out, and you're not overwhelming yourself. Because that's the big challenge I see with CEOs - they try to take on too much. They're all over the place, they've got a lot on their plate, and their teams wish that they would stay up here, instead of going down into the weeds. So manage your time and energy by having a strategic plan that clearly outlines how the rest of your management team can support you, and where you are best needed in your role.

Your personal leadership model - I tell people that the strategic plan is kind of a Trojan horse for team effectiveness. When you have your vision, you have your mission, you have your values, you have your strategic priorities, all of that stuff is good structure to reference. But it's only reference point is because the leadership team needs to work together to make that happen. So for you, as a CEO, to say hey, here's the vision, here's where we're going. Here's our mission, here's why we're going there. Here's our values - are you leading those? It's a great tool, you can just kind of tap the sign and let your team know, are we supporting moving that forward? It also allows you a little bit more license to make big changes and big choices, because you've done the front end work of saying where we want to go. CEOs often move very fast. And they're often a couple steps ahead of their staff. And when I say a couple, I kind of mean a couple too many.

So if you move too fast, without bringing your leadership team or your staff with you, they're going to be confused, they're going to be frustrated, and they're not going to want to buy into what you're doing. Because they don't see the connection. So for you to be an effective leader, and to effectively design your leadership model, having a strategic planning framework that you can reference, and communicate is going to help you put the system, structures, and processes in place to help you win and be successful. And finally, using strategic planning to build your perspective and the perspective of the leadership team.

As strategic planning facilitators, we're the people that you call when you're doing strategic planning offsite or you just want to participate instead of lead the meeting. We ask a lot of questions. And the reason we asked the questions is because we don't want to just give you the answer, we want to shift the perspective that you take when leading strategy when talking to your team. And when you're approaching problems and opportunities, the perspective will last forever.

So you as a CEO don't want to just give your team the answers. You want them to be equipped, prepared, and to understand the depth and breadth of not only the how of what you're doing, but the why of what you're doing. Using strategic planning and having a consistent strategic planning framework and structure for your leadership is going to help you develop the personal working norms and be successful.

So I know we covered a lot of things there. And so as a CEO, if you're saying where do I start, Anthony? Well pick one, like, pick one of these and focus on it for the next month or two. Whether that's the company strategy or vision, mission, values.

If you're doing a strategic planning offsite and you want to work with a facilitator, you can let us know. You could be focusing on leading the leadership team and putting the time/energy into making sure that your leadership team is successful within your strategic plan. Or you could be focused on aligning the rest of the organization so it goes in sequence cascading the plan down to everyone else, making sure they know how to be successful and how to contribute. Or maybe you're focused on being the face of the company - that might be a need that you have. Make sure that your stakeholders see the vision, they're bought into the vision, and that your role now is to support them getting bought in.

I really love this quote from John Maxwell, "a leader with no followers is just going for a walk". So if your people aren't following you, you're just going for a walk. So make sure that people see where you're going, and they want to go there too.

You might need to work with the board, you might need to get them involved in what you're doing. You might want to build those relationships, build that continuity, build that support. And you can ask, how can I support you in your role as a board member? How can we work together more effectively? And can how can we develop partnership? With those explicit questions, you'll be well on your way to driving your strategy forward and getting the buy-in from above.

And finally, you know, personal working norms. How do you want to lead? How do you want your legacy to be? What does ideal work look like to you, whether that's individual communication with key leaders, whether that's communication with a team, or whether that's how your team looks at problems and opportunities. For all of those - all six, strategic planning is going to provide you a perspective and an understanding that's going to help your team ultimately perform more.

Strategic planning on its own is great. But the only reason you want to have a strategic plan is so you can perform and get your job done. So if you're looking for somebody to support you with that, we can make your job as a CEO easier. We can help you with any and all of those six hats that you have to wear, and all of them are going to be solved through strategic planning. So whether that's our Strategic Alignment Program, walking you through either a two-day or a five-week strategic planning process. Or through our Implementation Program over a year where we can develop your team, train you, keep you accountable, and help you accomplish your One Destination as you move forward.

So be sure to reach out and visit us at smestrategy.net. Once again, my name is Anthony Taylor. I'm the Managing Partner at SME Strategy. Happy to share with you today. I hope you enjoyed today's video and we'll see you in the next one.

Bye everyone!


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