Part of creating the best place to work is learning how to self manage – very, very well. This is an essential part of Creating an environment of trust , but only one part. What does self-management mean? First, and most important, it means realizing that you are in a fishbowl. You are always on display. You are a role model in everything you do, from how you dress, to how you talk on the phone, to the way you treat others, to when you show up to work.
But what are some specifics to think about while you swim around in your tank?
- Don’t send mixed signals to the team. You can’t tell people to do one thing, then do something different yourself
- Remember the French Fry Theory of being a CEO. My friend Seth has the French Fry theory of life, which is simply that you can always eat one more French fry. You’re never too full for one more fry. You might not order another plate of them, but one more? No problem. Ever. As a CEO, you can always do one more thing. Send one more email. Read one more document. Sometimes you just need to draw the line and go home and stop working! (See my earlier post here on how Marketing is like French Fries for another example.)
- Regularly solicit feedback, then internalize it and act on it. Do reviews for the company. Do anonymous 360s (I’ve written about these regularly here). Get people a review that has ratings and comments from their boss, their peers, and their staff. Do them once a year at a minimum. And do one for yourself. They’re phenomenal. Everyone needs to improve, always. Our head of sales Anita always says “Feedback is a gift, whether you want it or not.” Make sure you do them for yourself as well. Include your Board. If you don’t agree with the feedback you are being given that is likely a data point that you have a BLIND SPOT. Being defensive about feedback is dangerous. If you don’t get it/don’t like then do some more work to better understand it. Otherwise you will forever be defensive and never develop in this area
- Maintain your sense of humor. It’s not only the best medicine, it’s the best way to stay sane and have fun. Who doesn’t want to have fun at work?
- Keep yourself fresh: Join a CEO peer group. Work with an executive coach. Read business literature (blogs, books, magazines) like mad and apply your learnings. Exercise regularly. Don’t neglect your family or your hobbies. Keep the bulk of your weekends, and at least one two-week vacation each year, sacrosanct and unplugged. As Covey would say, Sharpen the Saw
You set the tone at your company. You can’t let people see you sweat too much – especially as you get bigger. You can’t come out of your office after bad news and say “we’re dead!” You can make a huge difference by being a great role model, swimming around in your fishbowl.