Why Communication is Important for Successful Leadership

a red lock with three wooden people

Learning Communication from a Leadership Perspective

There are a few business skills that everyone needs. But effective communication is just one of the skills that set apart leaders. Learning leadership from a communication perspective is often a crucial step in any person’s success.

Becoming the Masters in Communication and Leadership
Masters in communication and leadership strive to build a successful foundation for their clients and workers. With that in mind, first we should outline what that foundation looks like.

Building the Foundation
Any good communicator is born out of a good communication plan. The first step in your plan should be building an excellent foundation. To do this, we should identify a few rules to establish a baseline for interaction with your peers.

Good communication should never be one-sided. The best communicators regulate the flow of conversation to make sure all sides are represented in the discussion. If you feel that someone’s voice is underrepresented, make sure to steer the conversation in their direction. You should also make sure that, during communication efforts, you take the necessary steps to minimize interruption and distraction.

Why Good Communication Skills are Important
The word ‘communication’ itself is used constantly. But have you ever stopped to ask why? Buzzwords can often be overused, but this one has proven to be an exception to the rule. These reasons are proof that communication deserves all the hype.

First, teams thrive on communication. Any breakdowns occurring in your business can cause loss of time and resources, cost your business, and even radically alter production timelines.

Second, any great leader should recognize that communication happens in all forms. To improve your relationships with your team, you’ll need to learn how to read each medium. During your next performance self-assessment, you should gauge your ability to read things like body language, gestures, tone, and inflection. Also, make sure to touch up on how people communicate digitally, given the ever-changing landscape of the modern office.

Common Mistakes
As you’re learning leadership from a communication perspective, you may want to avoid three common mistakes during interactions.

• Language: Make sure that you are using language effectively. You’ve heard that the pen is mightier than the sword, but we assert that your voice is leaps and bounds more effective than both. When addressing your peers, make sure that you are careful and deliberate with your words
• Tone: We’ve all been in a situation where a negative tone has been levied our way. We encourage masters in communication and leadership to keep a positive tone. This way any interaction you have is not upsetting for anyone involved. Instead, you are a well-oiled machine simply working out a few rusty gears.
• Listening to Respond: The next time you are about to respond to someone, stop and ask yourself if you’ve really thought through what they just said. It’s easy to catch yourself simply listening to respond instead of doing what you’re supposed to be doing: communicating. Take a little extra time to parse out what someone is saying, so you can have an appropriate and productive response.

The Next Steps in Your Leadership Communication Plan

You’re on the road to becoming a better leader. Now there are just a few more things we encourage you to work on soon.

For one, learn to adapt your style to the situation and group surrounding you. this will play a key part in making sure that no hiccups in communication occur. Next, be sure to emphasize and improve your listening. No one will mind if you take a few extra minutes to really think about what’s being said. If anything, they’ll respect you more for taking matters seriously. Finally, learn to empathize and understand the mindset of your teams. A great leader not only listens, but also understands where the speaker is coming from and what emotions they are feeling.

With these tips, you can’t go wrong and are on the fast track to becoming the best version of yourself.

Business Skills That Set Successful CEOs Apart

Leadership concept with a red paper ship leading among yellow ships

Becoming a successful CEO or business leader is about much more than having the right pedigree, charisma, or bank account for the job. The skills that set potential leaders apart are difficult to master. In fact, many CEOs that are forced to retire are not pushed out due to failing performance, but by their chosen leadership style.

As a company leader, there are many skills that CEOs must possess to remain successful. Let’s take a look at a few of those skills below:

Embracing Adaptation
As the leader of a team, you must be able to change the rules and adapt to situations consistently. CEOs who are good at adapting their business needs understand that the bigger picture is critical and that setbacks are a part of change. Being comfortable at adapting to change means accepting failures as a learning opportunity, as opposed to defensive responses, blame, and demotivation. Proactive adaptation is not only the sign of a good leader, but a skill set any company will need to stay successful.

Taking Decisive Action
Any successful CEO must be quick to make decisions. This does not mean they are rash or impetuous, but that they can make decisions with conviction and timeliness. It also means that they are not afraid to make the wrong decision, and can still come to a conclusion with limited scope or incomplete information. Leaders are not expected to make the perfect decision every time, but good leaders stand out in the ability to avoid doubt and come to a conclusion.

In an article for the Harvard Business Review, global managing partner of McKinsey & Company Dominic Barton says, “As a CEO you are constantly faced with situations where a playbook simply cannot exist. You’d better be ready to adapt.”

Perhaps an obvious answer, leaders must remain consistent. Setting realistic expectations upfront, a good leader delivers predictable and steady results time after time. to accomplish this, CEOs need to possess considerable organizational and planning skills. A CEO’s time might be spread among various tasks, so tackling them time after time while delivering consistent results is very important. often, this is done most successfully by constructing a leadership team of talented and dedicated employees.

Preparation for the Future
CEOs need to be forward-thinkers. As we have all come to understand in a post-pandemic workplace, what is working for an organization may not work in the future. Good leaders identify potential problems in their organization and address them as soon as they arise. They also engage with their stakeholders to gain support for their future goals.

CEO Solutions is a group dedicated to helping leaders develop their skills by connecting with their peers. We want to help area leaders grow their skills and develop successful businesses. Contact CEO Solutions to learn more.

Raising your Leadership Capabilities

Have you ever heard of the Law of the Lid? The Law of the Lid states that everybody hits a lid, or a ceiling, at some point in their career. Let’s learn more about this.

Whether you’re an athlete or a CEO, this can happen to you. Perhaps you’ve finally reached a specific running goal, but no matter how hard you train, you can’t improve your time. Or, as a leader in a business, you may have accelerated quickly but then stalled out. The same goes for a CEO. You may be great at managing a $5 million company, but you’re stalled when the company grows to $25 million, and you no longer know how to manage. At some point, everybody hits a lid and they are unable to perform at the level they were performing at previously. Hitting your lid is completely normal and understandable. You might have been a great CEO when you started your business, and because you were such great leader, the business took off. At some point, it grew so big that you felt out of your element; the whole situation changed. You feel paralyzed trying to figure out the right move.

Allowing the Law of the Lid to take place in your business is difficult. On the one hand, you don’t want leaders who have reached their lid and stalled out. On the other hand, you want to allow your leaders the chance to break through their lid. The key is to learn to recognize the lid in yourself so you can understand if you are hitting it. You also want to understand the lid in key team players so they don’t keep hitting their lids too. When key people can’t break through, it may be time for the company to make a change and bring someone in with more capacity in that area. The employee who hit their lid should be placed in the area they are strongest in. Oftentimes, once a change like this is made, the business sees accelerated growth in profitability and performance.

Running a business means that you will likely hit numerous lids in completely different areas. The key is to take a step back and figure out what skillsets and capabilities you can use to get past the lid. If you can’t accelerate past it, recognize when it is time to step back. Don’t allow the Law of the Lid to run rampant in your organization, and you will continue to see success.

If you want to hear me talk about this further, listen to my video on the Law of the Lid:

Leadership Weaknesses

Nobody is perfect. We all have weaknesses of our own. Leaders aren’t exempt; even if they are great leaders, they may have areas that they need to work on. Being a strong leader means you recognize these weaknesses and work to improve upon them; self-evaluation and self-improvement is crucial. Here are some of the top weaknesses found in leaders today.


Not Setting Clear Expectations

If you aren’t clear in your instructions, your employees will feel both confused and frustrated. Murky expectations will send employees in multiple directions and they won’t be able to stay on track. It can also be a waste of time and profit killer if employees are prioritizing projects they shouldn’t be because your expectations aren’t clear. 


Never Taking a Break

Everyone needs to unplug. Leaders are notorious for being workaholics that are constantly connected to their phones. Sure, it allows you to respond to customers and staff members quickly, buy you’re never turning your brain off. You may begin to adopt an omnipresent leadership approach. There’s also the risk of never feeling like you’re doing enough, especially if you do decide to take a weekend or night off from email. You may also get so caught up in the small details you forget about the larger picture.


Wanting to be Liked by Employees

Sure, everyone wants to be liked, but how much do you focus on that? Far too often, leaders desire to be everyone’s favorite boss so much that it clouds their decision-making skills. Sometimes, important decisions for the business will upset people, and you have to accept that. You can’t always be in everyone’s good favor. Sometimes simply explaining the reason you made an unpopular decision is enough to keep your employees satisfied.


Little or No Trust in Employees

If you don’t trust your employees, it shows, and it will create a not-so-great environment for everyone. One of the not-so-obvious ways that a leader can demonstrate this is by micromanaging projects or taking on all the work themselves. Leaders may not trust their employees to perform, so they just overwork themselves and refrain from giving them information on certain projects. Lack of trust can get even more serious if leaders choose to express that mistrust to other employees in the form of gossip or other negative statements.


Do you feel like you exhibit some of these traits? It might be time to join a peer leadership group to offer a safe outlet to discuss these fears and weaknesses!


Why Business Coaching is Important

Being a CEO or leader in your business isn’t easy; having a business mentor and peers that you can turn to for advice is of the utmost importance. You’ll build confidence, understand your business better, and have a safe place to discuss your fears and weaknesses with like-minded individuals. The combination of a peer group and a business coach will keep you on track.


If you aren’t involved in a peer group or meeting with a business coach or mentor, you may feel a little misguided. You might feel lonely, misunderstood, frustrated, or overly stressed. This is understandable. If you don’t have anyone to talk to regarding running the business (because talking to staff members about business fears and weaknesses is inappropriate), you might not be leading as effectively as you could be. A peer group will surround you with like-minded individuals who have likely already experienced what you’re going through; a business coach will help guide you onto the right path and navigate tricky business situations. 


A business coach goes beyond simply allowing you to vent your frustrations; they will help you find your audience and frame your business. Too often, as leaders we do the work of our business, but we don’t work on our business. A business coach will keep you focused on your business, too. That includes helping you frame your business in the best way to target your audience. They’ll guide you to target and market to the proper people. They’ll constantly push you to meet your goals—whether it comes to personal development or business achievements.


Failure is an important part of growing as a leader. Unfortunately, it isn’t always very easy to admit your faults. As a leader or CEO, you may not even see your weaknesses. While a CEO peer group will help you see that you aren’t alone, a business coach will help you see through your blind spots. Getting to the heart of these weaknesses, targeting them, and working on them will make you both a better person and a stronger leader.


Are you interested in joining a CEO peer group or working with a business coach? Let’s talk!


How to Make Stress Work for You

Stress is never a fun or easy thing to deal with. Some stress can be good for you; it motivates you to work harder and reach for your goals. But too much stress will keep you up at night, force you to overthink, and may even lead to health problems. There’s a common misconception that leaders are predisposed to deal with stress more effectively than the rest of the population. That is simply not true. Instead, they are able to make stress work for them instead of against them.


Think of a stressful time in your life. Whether it was an exam or a job interview, how did you get through it? The way we deal with stress is so often what leads to success. And leaders are very good under pressure. They maintain a sense of realistic optimism. Sure, they might recognize that the situation isn’t ideal, but they also don’t go into a shame spiral. They know that things go wrong, but they also recognize that they can deal with any setbacks and learn valuable lessons on the way.


When facing a fight-or-flight response, choosing to fight is what will bring about the best response when it comes to the stress of leadership. Leaders stay calm and fearless in tough situations, seeing them as a temporary setback, not a permanent obstacle. In a stressful situation, do you focus on the present hectic moment, or do you think about the long-term goal? Leaders constantly have the company’s goals in mind, and they deal with every stressful moment keeping that in mind. They focus on the tasks that matter, rather than wasting time on pointless details or dramatic moments.


Reflection is crucial when it comes to stress relief. Leaders feel less pressure when they take some time to step away from the situation to assess and determine the best solution. Stepping away from the stress allows leaders valuable time to find the clarity they need. They might exercise, or they might take some time to practice self-care. Either way, they understand the value of balance and stepping away from a situation when it’s become too much.


Leaders are professionals at managing stress and preparing for the unexpected. Addressing stress, limiting it when you can, and making it work for you are the keys to success.


How to Balance Family Expectations with the Stress of Being a Leader

You have to be at work at 8:00 AM. The kids have to be at school at 8:15 AM. There’s soccer practice right after school, and the kids are ready to be picked up at 4:15 PM, but you have a crucial meeting with an investor at 4:30 PM. Daycare is expensive, and sometimes you and your spouse have conflicting schedules. You simply don’t always have enough time during the day. As a result, it’s easy to fall into the trap of working all night. You never get the chance to fully unwind, and you might not be fully present with your family, either. Let’s discuss how to balance family expectations with the stress of being a leader.


Meticulously Plan

Plan out your work day and your home life to a T. Lay out your schedule in advance so you can prioritize what you do and don’t have time to complete.


Rely on Your Staff

Many times, CEOs struggle with delegating tasks to their staff—whether it’s fear that it won’t be completed properly or they feel the need to be in charge of everything. Your staff is competent and employed to help you, so let them. Letting go of some control will be freeing, and it’ll allow you to enjoy more time with your family.


Determine What’s Important

Sometimes it comes down to choosing to be a parent or choosing to be a leader. You may need to make that decision each day. Both your family and work life are fulfilling, so sometimes you need to decide what activity in the moment is most important. You might feel guilty sometimes, but move on; sometimes you miss things, and that’s okay.


Avoid Burnout

Many think that burnout stems from being overworked, and it might, but resent also plays a role. What makes you resentful about your current position? What do you feel as if you are constantly giving up? Figure that out, and eliminate the resentful activities.


Work from Home

Working from home a few days a week may allow you to balance work and family life a little better. However, make sure you have a set quitting time, rather than working all night. You should avoid working nights and weekends at all costs if you can.  


Integration vs. Balance

Many leaders encourage the idea of integration vs. balance when it comes to work and family life. They advise that it isn’t a matter of choosing one or the other, but incorporating both into your life by maximizing your time wherever you are. Fully engage and work hard to complete tasks efficiently so you can spend the rest of your time with your family.


Schedule Personal Time

There’s a reason they say “You can’t pour from an empty cup.” Self-care is important. You will struggle to be a good parent and strong leader without first making sure you are well taken care of. Get adequate rest, follow a healthy diet and exercise regimen, and schedule time for yourself to complete the activities that make you happy. 



Choosing family will set an example for other people. You might miss some business events, but you won’t miss your son’s high school graduation or moving your daughter into her college dorm room, and that’s what truly matters.




Benefits of Being a Part of a Peer Group for CEOs

able to elevate

You don’t have to go it alone. It may start to feel lonely when you’re on the top of the ladder. Peer groups aren’t just for teenagers in high school. A CEO peer group helps high up leaders by providing support, guidance, and advise. Here are some benefits to collaborating and meeting with other CEOs:


  1. Know how to scale

Within a group, there are people who have been through it all. Mismanaging growth causes many businesses to fail. Another CEO will have valuable advice on how you can properly manage the ups and downs of your business.


  1. Don’t be Blinded

This group will have your back. There will always be something that sneaks up on when you are running a business. A group will can give you honest feedback and tough love to help you conquer and improve in any areas that sneak up on you.


  1. Accountability is Key

This is one of the major traits of having a successful business. In a CEO peer group, all CEOs act as partners and check in to see how and where the business is going.


  1. It Gets Personal

It is so hard NOT to bring personal problems into the work place, which can have an effect on your business. By being a part of a CEO group you are with people who understand and are dealing with the same things you are. 


  1. Access to Additional Resources

Having a strong network is key. The bigger your network the larger your pool of resources is. Running a business is all about options, and by being a part of a group made up of people who own and run businesses, the options are endless.


  1. Brilliant Ideas

A peer CEO group is a way of creating a board of ideas. The best idea is a well-tested idea. A group is a perfect setting to narrow down what ideas other CEO’s have implemented to know what went well and what didn’t.



Being a CEO of a business is a roller coaster ride. Although roller coasters can be scary, they are tolerable and even fun when you have someone to ride them with you. Being a part of a peer group for CEOs opens the door to friendships and partnerships that will help get you through the ups and downs of business. 

CEO Solutions: A Success Story

5 years ago, shortly after graduating from North Dakota State University, Jake Joraanstad and Ryan Raguse started working with CEO Solutions. Together, the two founded Myriad Mobile, a company that specializes in mobile and web technology solutions. They came looking for leadership training and advice; they’ve been part of the CEO family ever since. Through our strategic view, CEO Roundtable, and coaching, Jake and Ryan learned valuable tools that have aided them in their own success. We’re proud of our members and want to share their success story!

Located in Fargo, North Dakota, Myriad Mobile have become leaders and experts in their field. They take ideas and bring them to life through strategy and consulting; they work on things from web and mobile development projects to project management strategies. Myriad Mobile’s business strategies mimic what we value at CEO Solutions; their success is a direct result of hard work and fresh perspectives.

Recently, Myriad Mobile launched a farm relationship management tool called Bushel. Bushel has raised $7 million in funding from agricultural investors and software moguls. The Bushel mobile app platform has brought the agriculture industry it’s first tech product that simplifies the grain industry’s relationship between elevators and their growers.

The app gives farmers information at their fingertips. Having access to the information while in the field helps farmers make decisions on-the-spot. When you’re trying to decide which side of the field to harvest or trying to avoid shipping wet crops, being able to record and manage that information when the decision has been made will save time and improve efficiency.


Jake and Ryan took what they learned with CEO Solutions and applied it to real-world situations. Their approach to business merges integrity with decision-making to create a company that brings innovative ideas to life. CEO Solutions takes pride in the strategies we help our members develop and our members tell us they learn valuable lessons about what to do, and, sometimes more importantly, what not to do through their membership with CEO.


Congratulations to our friends, Jake and Ryan at Myriad Mobile, on their success! CEO Solutions is celebrating with you and we’re excited to see what new and brilliant ideas you breathe life into next!

CEO Solutions Members Make Fast-Growth List

fast growth

Five of CEO Solutions’ member organizations were named to the 2017 Inc. 5000 list of fastest-growing companies, including one in its first year of eligibility. Four of the five companies experiencing this notable fast growth are new, first-generation companies, and all have CEOs under the age of 35.

The highest of the CEO Solutions members on the list is Stoneridge Software, a Barnesville, Minn.-based Microsoft partner that implements Microsoft Dynamics software. According to the InForum, “these products, in turn, help clients modernize their workflow, get access to real-time business intelligence and streamline their operations.”

The company, which was founded just five years ago by three former Microsoft employees, ranked 1,050 overall and 12th in Minnesota after experiencing a 365 percent spike in revenue over the last three years.

The four additional CEO Solutions member organizations on the fast growth list are:

  • Myriad Mobile, based in Fargo, which ranked 1,449 on the list after recording 280 percent growth
  • Laketown Electric, based in Wachovia, which ranked 1,887 after 202 percent growth
  • Thomsen Homes, based in Fargo, which ranked 3,071 after 171 percent growth
  • TrueIT, based in Fargo, which ranked 3,690 after 82 percent growth

As members of the CEO Solutions program, all five of the companies have implemented the EOS Traction management operational system. This simple but effective program focuses on clarity, focus, outcomes, accountability and people growth, creating a basis for profitable, fast growth.

With peer advisory groups meeting regularly in Minneapolis, St. Cloud and Fargo, CEO Solutions is a valuable business development resource for company leaders, whether experienced in their position or new to the job. Not only do our members learn valuable operational skills, but they also receive peer support that helps them perform at their best.

Interested in learning more about CEO Solutions? Attend one of our free executive briefings, to be held on November 1 in St. Cloud and November 15 in Minneapolis. There, you’ll learn about strategies for retaining employees and encouraging growth, with a focus on people and leadership, finance, market and competition.

Get more information and register for the St. Cloud briefing here and the Minneapolis briefing here.