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Three Things a CEO Should Never, Ever Do!

A CEO is only as effective as the team he or she leads. There are many things a CEO can do to increase the effectiveness and performance of their company, but there are also things that should be avoided at all costs so that performance and morale don’t fall. Here are three of them:

1) Have corporate values that no one remembers or implements.

It really bothers me when a company has a nice set of values hanging on the wall that no one knows by heart. Not only that, but they are not being implemented by anyone. What’s the point of having powerful and emotive words in your values like “honesty” and “integrity” when employees are not being treated in an integrous manner?

Look, as the CEO you need to do three important things. First, learn your own corporate values by heart! Second, live them and implement them daily. Third, make sure everyone else is doing the same. Your values should reflect your culture 100%. If they’re not, then either change your corporate values or your culture. It’s that simple.

2) Give vague instructions:

Never sit in a meeting and say things like “we should do this and that…” Or “Let’s get started with this project…”. Who should get is started? When should they start? When should it finish? Every meeting (or written instruction) should be very specific(think of Who, What, Where, When and How).

Here’s an example of what I’m talking about. Some years ago, a manager at a previous company I founded, a fitness and weight loss concept, sent out this email [actual names have been changed]:

Dear Team,

I did a 2-Week call for Ms. Khawla, and she said she is very happy with us but she brought 2 guests here and they are on their free trial period. But no one is inside with them to check either they are using the machine correctly or not,,, she requested that one of the TEAM MEMBER should ALWAYS BE inside if there is member or guest inside.

Thank you.

As you can see, the information is useful, and the fact that this manager shared it with everyone was excellent. However, it was too vague and unlikely to elicit any response from anyone. There were no specific instructions, and no one specific was asked to do anything.

I sent her this email in reply:

Dear [manager],

Good you sent the email, but it was sent out to all TM's*, which means that responsibility is diluted, and it will be less likely that someone will act.

Here's a better what of doing it:

- Send it to a specific person, and ask him or her to act, and to get back to you by a certain date (You can still CC all TM's)

- You should have asked for the names of the guests, and mentioned them in the email.

- Then you could ask the TM you emailed to call both guests and to apologise to them, and to promise they would be looked after.

Kind regards,


*TM = Team Member

The manager then sent a follow up email:

Dear Fatima,

Kindly follow up with Ms. Khawla’s guests. Here is there name and contact number kindly give them a call and apologize and promise that you will look after them whenever they here.

And let me know her feedback once the call is done,

Deadline is 16/08

In case you are not In the shift , Maria I want you to be with them in side the circuit.

Can you see how the second email was much more specific? This one lead to action being taken. Remember to always direct instructions to a specific person, and to be as detailed as possible - and to remember to set a deadline.

3) Under communicate:

I remember reading an article a couple of years ago about John Willard "Bill" Marriott Jr, the Executive Chairman and Chairman of the Board of the Marriott group of Hotels. He mentioned that he travels around 200 days a year to various Marriott locations around the world and repeated himself all the time. He repeats the same message over and over again wherever he goes.

Trust me on this, you cannot under communicate as a CEO. Repeat the company values, vision and plans, and the challenges you are facing. There will always be someone who will claim to have heard it for the very first time. Also, make sure you communicate big plans internally before you make a public announcement. This makes your team feel special and trusted.

At Falak we’re here to help. We can help craft your values, create a communications plan and routine and provide leadership training and coaching. We’d love to hear from you.

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