How Do You Act and Think Like a Leader?

Overhead shot of two colleagues working at an angular table

What is the process of becoming a leader? Is it developing your strengths to be even stronger? Or is it working on your weaknesses to turn them into strengths? Herminia Ibarra tries to provide insight into becoming a leader in her book, “Act Like a Leader, Think Like a Leader.” Throughout the book, Ibarra offers a unique perspective on leadership and how to become an effective leader. While many leadership books rely on finding insight on what our strengths and weaknesses are, she suggests looking for “outsights.” We can get outsights from new ways of doing work, building relationships and networks, and connecting with and engaging others.

As a reader, you will learn how important it is to learn to act like a leader when stepping into a leadership role. Leaders use innovation and research new trends in their field to ensure they are continually making the best decisions for the organization. Leaders must act on opportunities and learn from what happens to improve continuously. As well as learning, we cannot stay complacent for too long. When we get praised for doing tasks at work, we are likely to keep doing them. However, as a leader, it is crucial to keep growing your skills to become more versatile. Ibarra suggests redefining or reframing your position to take on new tasks that you can learn from.

For leaders, Ibarra also suggests the importance of being more playful with yourself. A lot of leadership books can seem like they are asking you to change your behaviors. However, authenticity is essential for leaders. Try new actions that do not change your authentic self by being more playful and seeing what sticks and what does not. Leaders also do not step into a leadership role once. Many leaders will take on new leadership roles repeatedly, and once you accept that, it makes it easier for you to adapt to your new roles.

The final lesson that Ibarra has for the readers is to create a network outside of your organization. When we try to better ourselves and become a stronger leader, it can be easy to get wrapped up in your usual social network. However, expanding your network outside of your organization can help ensure you reach your goals and receive those “outsights” Ibarra suggests we find. Having a growing social network can help you reach new lengths and achieve bigger and better goals.

Being a leader is hard, and it takes a lot of continual growth. Many leaders feel like they do not have it all figured out or that they never stop learning. If this is how you feel, you should pick up a copy of Ibarra’s book and learn how to find your “outsights.” To build your social network, you can contact CEO Solutions to join our membership and learn from other leaders and hold each other accountable.

How to Effectively Sell your Brand

A businesswoman presenting on a whiteboard to a man at a table in a suit

We’ve all heard that we need to “sell our brand,” but how do you really do that? 2020 has been a challenging year for businesses, and it’s never been more important to sell your brand before selling your product. You could have the best, most innovative product out there. However, if you don’t sell your brand first, no one is going to buy it. When trying to figure out how to sell your brand, follow these tips.


Clearly Articulate your Goals

When trying to sell your brand, you must first understand why you are in the business and what you’re doing it for—understanding your why allows you to implement your business goals in ways that are authentic to your company. Authenticity and transparency are so important in today’s day and age. When you understand why, you can choose how to implement your strategies. Selling your brand is more than just having connections. It’s understanding how you want to make those connections and what you want them to look like.


Utilize Face-to-Face Interaction

A few years ago, the focus of selling your brand was having an online presence. While that is still essential for any business to stay afloat, face-to-face, whether in person or through a virtual platform, is crucial. Face-to-face interactions rapidly accelerate your trust and rapport amongst customers. With so many articles to read and social media posts to look through, it’s hard for individuals to find the best brand for them. That’s why having interactive face-to-face time is so essential, and it even allows you to get customer feedback right away, which can benefit your products too.


Be Innovative

Innovation is a huge buzz word right now, and it is essential for selling your brand. Having unique, innovative ideas allows for your business to have a niche that others don’t. Think outside the box and attract customers that way. Innovation is what keeps many companies afloat. So, go to the drawing board with your employees and think creatively about selling your products in innovative ways.


Selling your brand effectively is easier said than done. However, if you articulate your goals, use face-to-face interaction, and be innovative, you are sure to sell your brand to others and ultimately sell your products. If you’re unsure of where to start in selling your brand, contact us today. We have a team of professionals who are trained in selling a brand.

Should You Offer Unlimited PTO?

After the COVID-19 crisis, many companies are considering switching to an unlimited PTO policy. After the uncertainty of the past few months, it is important to discuss what is best for your employees and your company. There are many advantages to an unlimited PTO policy and some disadvantages. What works best for every company is different, but it is crucial to stay up-to-date with policies in the current job environment.

Unlimited Paid Time Off (PTO) plans usually have no given allotted number of days that employees can take off. Employees can take as many vacation, sick, emergency, and mental health days as they need as long as they keep up with their mandatory work and keep up with performance goals. Unlimited PTO plans usually require supervisor approval beforehand, except in cases of sickness or family emergencies.

If you’re worried about your employees taking too much time off, many studies have shown that employees with unlimited PTO still take roughly the same amount of time off as those without it. So why do you need it? Trusting your employees to take time off to take care of themselves allows for a more positive work environment.

There are several advantages to an unlimited PTO plan, as it fosters a trusting relationship between you and your employees and encourages responsibility. Unlimited PTO reduces the likelihood that employees will come to work when sick, something we all have heightened awareness of because of the pandemic. Depending on your state laws, it saves you money because days off are no longer accrued, and you don’t have to pay out vacation time when an employee leaves the company. It also looks like an attractive benefit when recruiting job candidates.

While there are advantages, there are also some disadvantages. If an employee seems to be taking off too much time and is no longer meeting productivity standards, it can be hard to terminate them; they were technically given the time off. Establishing and reviewing performance goals can mitigate this issue. It will also still be necessary to track time to prove that employees are taking time off in compliance with regulations.

Unlimited PTO plans are a great way to increase responsibility and trust within your company. With the ongoing COVID-19 crises, many companies and employees wished they had this plan in place. It’s never too late to switch, but what is best for your company is ultimately up to you.

Emphasizing Accountability as a Leader

As a leader, holding yourself accountable, as well as holding the whole team accountable, is extremely important to your bottom line. It takes courage to hold staff members accountable for their good work behavior or their lack thereof, and not every leader can do it. Here are some tips for being a leader in this area and encourage workplace accountability.


Make Expectations Clear

Workplace accountability is defined as fulfilling workplace responsibilities. That includes taking care of your daily tasks and doing so in a timely fashion with attention to deadlines. In short, it means completing your job and not cutting corners, thus shortchanging both your customers and your business as a whole. It requires precisely articulated expectations from supervisors; there is no room for ambiguity. Employees shouldn’t be blamed for not meeting workplace standards if they are not clearly articulated; expectations must be clearly defined. Without direction and guidance, employees will do what they think is best, which might not always align with your expectations. When giving direction, also ask for feedback. This allows you to address any misunderstandings, so you can hold them accountable for the work at the end of the day.


Provide Resources and Training

In order to emphasize accountability, you need to provide the proper resources, tools, and training. If you give an employee a task, but don’t give them the proper training or resources to complete the task, you can’t exactly hold them accountable for completing the task properly. Again, make sure feedback and communication is part of the conversation. If the employee expresses confusion at the task, they may need some extra training.


Make Accountability Part of the Culture

Make accountability part of your workplace culture. As a leader, take the lead on this by not only holding yourself accountable for completing tasks you promise to finish, but by encouraging it in others. Workers can easily tell if they can slack off and get away with doing the minimum. However, if the culture frowns on this practice, employees will get the message. Discuss accountability in reviews as well. This will foster a culture of accountability.


Be sure that you are holding yourself accountable before others and setting a good example. Also make sure that you are empowering employees. There are times tasks won’t get completed by certain deadlines, and occasionally that happens. Don’t let one mistake ruin an employee; give them the space to flourish creatively and prove their value to the team.

3 Personality Traits that Make for a Successful CEO

Natural leader is only part of the job description for a CEO. In fact, there are numerous elements that go into becoming a successful CEO. There is no blueprint for what makes a successful CEO, but there are key personality traits that make CEOs stand out and more successful than others. 


In short, empathy is taking the time to show your employees that you appreciate them. Employees who work in an environment that fosters a safe space for feedback and recognizes achievements are more likely to produce higher-quality work. CEOs can spur growth within the company by simply providing employees with a sense of purpose and valuing their contributions and ideas.


As a CEO, there’s constant pressure to be perfect. Yet, a CEO who shows humility and takes responsibility for their mistakes is more admired by their staff. By providing this example of their employees, CEOs set an expectation of transparency in their offices. Employees will begin to speak up when they come across problems sooner because they’re not worried about punishment for their shortcomings and understand that management will help find a conducive solution for all.


Not only does innovation fuel companies towards huge breakthroughs and success, it also sparks creativity and change. Vision is important in every level of the organization. CEOs who encourage employees to share their feedback and creative contributions also endorse that change is welcome. This cultivates new ideas for the organization to pursue to find more success. 

CEOs who embrace their humility, vision and empathy are more likely to be held in high regard by their employees and encourage them to work hard in a company where they feel valued and understood.

Insurance for your Investment to Avoid the 5th Year Fail

Key Reasons CEO’s fail and lose your money…

With more companies failing in the 5th year than in the 1st, according to the SBA, one must wonder why? They have sales, cash flow, market, and things seem to be working. So why such a failure rate at 5 years?

As an investor this must be a concern as its around the 5th year that one expects to see a return on the funds invested.

Over the past 40 years of working with business start-ups, growth companies and mature companies, we have seen many of the issues that could cause the 5th year statistics. Here are some of the major ones an investor, CEO and Founder must look out for.

1.       The art of planning or the lack thereof. It is amazing how many in leadership roles do not utilize the most basic of planning in their operations. With a “wild west” reactionary approach, chaos and poor performance become the norm. There is awareness something is not right, but without a plan to measure against, the cause is lost in the chaos.

Even when there is a Strategic Plan in place, is it tossed in the drawer and only reviewed after the fact? Such Strategic Plans should be the central focus of the leadership team, even when there are only three people in the company. Weekly if not Monthly reviews should occur on a scheduled basis. This keeps the organization focused and provides a measurement and warning when they have wondered off Track. Loss of focus equals loss of profit.

2.       I cannot count the times we have found the CEO/Founder being the biggest choke point in a growth business.  Nothing can move without their input or directive. This inability to “let go” or not delegate stops great people with potential and often causes them to seek other opportunities. Now your losing human capital and that is expensive.

Many managers struggle with the “letting go” yet once overcome, the manager becomes a great leader, which is different. Most people are not natural born delegators because its more than just giving out tasks! It is about communicating outcomes, coaching for performance, providing tools and skills, monitoring and making tough choices along the way. All of this can be developed if the CEO/Founder is open to it. Now the company has unlimited potential.

3.       The ability to make decisions, act on those decisions and then modify as needed is one of the most valuable capabilities of a CEO of a fast growth company. Yet many Founders are not yet tested in this capacity. When the complexity grows, the Founders capability comes into full light. Hopefully they can learn, demonstrate and develop the decision, act, modify ability.  

4.       If the CEO/Founder is high functioning in the first three areas, the “Right Team” tends to take care of itself. Yet one key issue that continually comes up is “The team that got you here may not be the one getting you there.” Many new leaders have issues when it comes to change in the leadership team, not because their bad people on the team, just not the right ones for the company at this time.  

This is where building “bench strength”, “transferring tribal knowledge”, and “culling the team” come into play. This takes vision, strategy, planning, communications and leadership for the company to grow and be profitable. It also takes time, effort and patience to become this type of leader. But this drives high profit and long-term stability.

5.       The “loneliest seat in the room” is often used to describe the CEO seat. The ability to express one’s ideas with full confidence is not always available to most Founders. The bank, attorney, CPA all have their agendas. The leadership team kind of understands, but not really. Besides, who can one trust?

This is why the CEO peer to peer concept is so powerful. When we ask a CEO who they really trust and take their input to heart, it is another CEO! Having the ability to confidentially address their business and personal concerns can propel an ok CEO to an awesome CEO as we have experienced it many times. Often, all five of these issues can be addressed on an ongoing basis for the CEO through a peer group.

We hope this gives you the investor, insight into how to ensure your investment is staged for a great ROI. It begins and ends with the capability of the CEO/Founder. What is your strategy for assuring your CEO’s are at their peak and maximizing your investment return?

For more on CEO Peer opportunities, visit

Self-Deception as a Leader

Self-deception is defined as “the action or practice of allowing oneself to believe that a false or unvalidated feeling, idea, or situation is true.” Consider this: a business partner repeatedly tells you that he wants to take a step back and decrease his ad buys in the business, but you convince yourself that he is very interested in the business and would like to increase ad buys. As a leader, how often do you self-deceive? While you may not do something specifically like this with the ad buys, you may be deceiving yourself in other ways.


How often do you receive feedback that doesn’t seem to line up with how you feel about yourself? If you’re consistently receiving that same feedback, and consistently denying it and failing to see that characteristic in yourself, you could be a self-deceiver. You may be seeing past your faults and choosing to self-justify. Self-deception in the workplace can cause a lot of destruction. It can cause you to spend more time thinking about yourself and your goals than the growth of the business. It can also cause you to treat others as objects.


When you are self-deceived as a leader, you may partake in a few detrimental behaviors—one of which is inflating your virtue. When you have an exaggerated sense of self, you begin to undervalue others and draw attention to their flaws. You blame others, and your coworkers become objects, not people. You may think others are challenging you, even if they have presented themselves as allies. It’s a tough mindset to be in, and can cause poor teamwork, lack of trust, and communication issues.


Self-deception may make you blind to your own true motivations. After all, the concept of deception is to deceive, or fool someone—even if it’s yourself. In doing so, you may unintentionally sabotage yourself. In lying to yourself, you are blind to the truth and unable to implement effective workplace solutions.


There are different levels of self-deception, whether you deceive yourself casually or totally disregard reality. Remedying the problem involves a journey of self-awareness. Learn more about this topic by investing in a copy of Leadership and Self-Deception by The Arbinger Institute. As a note of interest, this book is voted #1 by our CEO Solutions Peer Group members, all of whom are CEOs.

Five of Steve Jobs’ Most Important Leadership Lessons

Steve Jobs, the man who made Apple into one of the largest tech companies today, is renowned as one of the greatest tech leaders in the business. While many consider him a tough leader, there are great lessons to learn from him.


Discover Your Passion

If you aren’t passionate about your pursuits, how will you turn fantasy into reality? If you don’t love what you’re doing, you won’t dedicate yourself and the necessary time and resources required to succeed. If you aren’t passionate about your business, how do you expect your staff to be passionate?


Find Your Vision

If you don’t have a vision, where are you going? Where is your business going? Without a clear vision, it will be difficult to determine what direction to take. Think about Apple. Where would the company be without Steve Jobs’ expert leadership? You should always be planning for the long-term and thinking about the future.


Inspire and Empower

This might go without saying, but you need to inspire and empower your employees. Push them to be the best they can be. Challenge them and push their boundaries. Steve Jobs was great at this. He didn’t order people around or micromanage. He helped them to learn to challenge themselves and explore their potential, which led to increased productivity and of course, innovative thinking. Steve Jobs was known for working his employees night and day before a product launch to get it just right. While we don’t advise pushing your employees to the point of burnout, understand the line between inspiring them and pushing them too far.


Don’t Settle

While striving for perfection is often a source of stress and people feel as if they’re never good enough, don’t settle for less. When the first iPod was just days from launching, Steve Jobs had the headphone jacks replaced. As engineers looked on, he noted that the headphones didn’t make a clicking sound when they were inserted into the headphone jack. He insisted that users wouldn’t know if the headphones were fully inserted if there was no click. Even though they were cutting it down to the wire, he insisted it was fixed. You don’t have to be perfect all the time, but don’t settle for second best when you know you can push yourself and your team to do better. 


Take Risks

Steve Jobs was a master innovator, always taking risks. If you aren’t taking risks in your business, you must ask yourself if you are growing. Embracing new strategies and solving problems by shaking things up will help you stay one step ahead of the competition and strengthen your brand.



Leap: How to Thrive in a World Where Everyone Can be Copied

It’s the age-old question: how can companies succeed and maintain that success long-term? In Howard Yu’s 2018 highly rated book, Leap: How to Thrive in a World Where Everyone Can be Copied, he strives to answer that question. He takes into consideration the ever-evolving world of business and technology. Yu argues that by incorporating reinvention as a priority into an organization’s system, businesses will be able to stay above the competition and at the top of their field. Expert companies have done it in the past, and are still doing it today.


To be a successful, lasting business, it’s not enough to be good in the chosen field or have a great product. Businesses must also acknowledge how easily they can be copied by their competition (and (often foreign) latecomers). Businesses have to keep changing it up and balancing the task of mastering the old and inventing the new. That often involves reimaging products and services and learning to market them in new ways in order to overpower the competition.


Yu uses captivating case studies that demonstrate both successes and failures in the business industry to present a model for achievement. He stresses five principles for success that can be applied to countless industries. He doesn’t just use current examples either. He details effective tactics from numerous eras. We tend to think that a strategy used in the 40’s would be ineffectual in today’s technologically advanced world, until we take into consideration that that company is still standing strong today. Yu also makes a nod at the need to use multiple disciplines to stay relevant. As a prime example, he cites top pharmaceutical companies that didn’t simply rely on chemistry, but began using microbiology and genomics to lead to groundbreaking drug discoveries.


The lesson in Leap is clear: leap. Make leaps and bounds in business. Take risks that may seem impossible; it may be the only way to outlast the competition and prosper in this ever-changing world.