Avoid the 6 Traps Facing New CEOs

Congratulations, you’ve now been appointed CEO of a growing enterprise! You are anxious to get started and you have the energy to change the world.  Well…..put the brakes on that!  This is where new CEO’s often cause problems for themselves. They carry this “change the world” thought too far and try to do too much too soon.

There are a number of other traps that new CEO’s fall into. One of the most dangerous traps making change just for change sake. Perhaps this is part of entrenching the idea of who is now the boss, putting your new leader’s stamp on things so to speak. The danger here is that you don’t really understand the business, you don’t have a good grasp of the capability of your team and you don’t know the customers. In fact, you don’t know what you don’t know!  Instead of focusing attention on making change, develop a learning plan to find out as much as you can and as quickly as you can.

I am sure you’ve heard this comment said before...”the promotion went to his/her head”. This is often known as the “King or Queen” ego trap where a newly appointed leader suddenly acts superior to everyone else. They become obsessed with their success, and often talk down to staff and are disrespectful.

Not only that, some new leaders seem to revert to that the old fashioned authoritative leadership style and become bullies and dictators who get busy building a culture of fear. Out of all the CEO traps, letting your ego get ahead of you is a sure path to failure.

Another trap for new CEO’s is the “Superman” or “hero” Trap. In this situation, the new leader tries to make all the decisions themselves. They ask for input, appear to listen to new ideas but then quickly ignore the feedback and make the decision solo. Believe me, their management team will soon stop offering their suggestions. Not only that but holding onto a superman/hero attitude will lead to executive burnout.

On the other hand, if a new CEO doesn’t become superman, then he/she may often become a “taskmaster”, delegating this, that and everything and then micromanaging the assigned tasks. If this is your approach, your team will become disengaged very quickly and will try to avoid you at all costs.

Failing to develop relationships both inside and outside the organization and ensuring there is a good balance is also a big trap for new CEO’s. In one situation, our client complained that nine out of ten staff in their organization would not recognize the CEO because he was never there. He focused so much attention on external relationships that he neglected his team and was out of touch with his organization.

Another trap for new CEO’s is the tendency to ignore a problem when it first arises. Whether or not you have the expertise to solve it, the problem must be addressed.  Turn to the team and work with them to resolve the issue at hand. Ignoring a problem can result in creating a bigger and more costly problem.

Sometimes when a new CEO encounters challenges, it is due to a lack of self-awareness or emotional intelligence. Knowing yourself well enables you to build a team that compliments your professional strengths and areas of challenge. On the other hand, if a new CEO “wears” his/her emotions on their sleeve, they have the power to impact the emotions of their team. For instance, angry outbursts will have a negative impact that can harm your reputation and relationships.

It is well known that too many new CEOs fail within the first 18 months of their appointment with many others failing to stay beyond three years. Much of the time, the reason for failure traces back to the many CEO’s traps. Successful new CEO’s take their time, analyze and learn as much as they can about their organization, they are decisive decision makers and form strong relationships inside and outside their business. Finally, they have strong self-awareness and manage their ego.

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