A key part of any CEO’s or entrepreneur’s role is to make the “right” decisions, and then ensure they are enacted to advance the business. Yet their decisions and actions often miss the mark, frustrating the achievement of their aspirations.
It’s the voice in their head and other invisible factors at work.
“All CEOs and entrepreneurs have habits, beliefs and motivators – such as fear – that affect what they do, often unconsciously,” says Mark E. Green, a speaker, coach to CEOs and author of Activators: A CEO’s Guide to Clearer Thinking and Getting Things Done (www.Activators.biz).
Green says these “hidden growth killers” interfere with a business leader’s ability to make optimal decisions and then see them through via day-to-day choices and actions.
“This is why leading your business feels challenging, frustrating and even maddening at times despite the fact that you generally know what to do and how to do it,” Green says. “Your motivators, habits and beliefs influence how you think and act.”
Any CEO or entrepreneur who ever put off having a critical conversation or justified retaining a poor-performing employee has experienced their own “hidden growth killers” in action.
And it’s not just those at the top who are susceptible.
“Motivators, habits and beliefs operate similarly in the minds of your leadership team and every other person you employ,” Green says. “The cumulative cost is staggering.”
Fortunately, he says, there are research-backed techniques to counteract the “hidden growth killers” and more consistently align our decisions, choices and actions with our ultimate aspirations. Just a few of those are:
- Reduce fear. “Until you identify and debunk your fears, they’re guaranteed to drive your thinking and behavior,” Green says. There are ways to prevent fear-based decision making. One is to name a specific fear and explore the logic and realistic probability behind it. In most cases, you’ll realize that it isn’t real enough to warrant impact on your thinking and behavior. Next, don’t rush into decisions. If you take the time to gather information and weigh logic more than emotion you minimize fear-dominated decisions. Finally, you should surround yourself with more accomplished people who are willing and able to challenge you to grow beyond your fears
- Slow down and get rational. “How we think and what we do are largely the result of habits, some good, some bad,” Green says. Those habits are engrained and automatic, so one way to overcome negative habits is to slow down. For example, many business leaders are in the habit of being seduced by their own busyness. Instead of working on the big-picture – such as assessing customer needs or thinking strategically – they become focused on solving something in front of them that seems broken. “Rather than give in to that urge, you can slow down and get rational,” Green says. Compare the value of one activity to another, weighing which has a better long-term payoff. Or determine if someone else could handle the immediate issue and be sure to get over any fear associated with proper delegation.
- Leverage your past, both good and bad. “Your interpretation of the past affects how you view the present,” Green says. “Our perception of past events skews either negative or positive, which is why two people often remember the same event differently.” If you have a past-positive orientation, your past experience will tend to bolster your confidence. But if your orientation is past-negative, you might approach the same situation with fear and dread. Green says you can better leverage your past by contemplating a few questions. What good came from a bad prior experience? Are there alternative explanations for past events? How else can you look differently at what happened in your past? Shifting your thinking can be the key to your future success.
Green cautions that no matter how deliberate you are in your efforts to improve, even the most seasoned CEOs make mistakes and experience setbacks.
“Remain purposeful and take it in stride,” he says. “In the marathon you’re running to scale your business, your willingness to stretch and grow, to do the work and to stick with it are what really matter.”