6 Ways on How to Manage a Team Effectively As the CEO

Hire the Right People for Team Management and Develop Their Skill Sets

How do you manage your team as the CEO of your company? First and foremost is talent acquisition. Secondly is talent development. What I mean by this is you want to hire people that you want to keep within the organization. And there will be two classes of people you want to keep. One class usually costs more and they are very, very good at what they do at the function they own. If you can afford to bring in the very best then you are going to bring in people that have the potential to be the very best. And it’s your job, if they report to you, to bring them up to that level, it’s your job to teach them, to mentor them, and coach them into becoming better at what they do.

Now, they may be an expert in a particular field, and you are not an expert in that field. However, you are going to teach them how to be a leader. you are going to teach them how to lead their team. you are going to teach them how to manage people. you are going to teach them how to get the most out of their team. So you are making a decision when you bring in keepers, people you want to keep in the organization that you are going to invest in them. This is one of the most important steps in how to manage a team. 

Create Clearly Defined Goals for Your Management Team To Accomplish

Secondly, you want to create great clarity around what you want them to accomplish. Now, there are many ways of going about doing this. There are goal-setting processes. There is something called the entrepreneurial operating system. My favorite is OKRs or objectives and key results. Choose which one works for you, but you need a way to create great clarity around what is it we are here to do in this timeframe? What are the things we’ve chosen to focus on and how are we going to measure our progress against achieving those? Next, create alignment amongst your team. This is important because once people understand what they are going to be measured on, what they are going to be focused on.

There is invariably conflict. Sales wants something here, marketing wants something here, engineering wants something over here, and they don’t always align. That’s perfectly natural.

For you to manage your team members, you need to create that alignment.

You have to help them understand that yes, they are focused on their individual targets, but they are also focused on helping the company achieve its goals. Your team members have a responsibility to help the other teams align behind the organization or company goals.

Next, be a chameleon as the CEO. What I mean by this is that the CEO needs to adjust and change their communication style based on who they are communicating with. Each direct report has a different style, a different way of hearing a different way of absorbing a different way of thinking about the information that they are charged with that they are responsible for. And a great CEO is like a chameleon. They will adjust to ensure that that person truly deeply understands what they are supposed to do by helping them and adjusting to their style. Next, become a world-class delegator.

Delegate Effectively to Your Management Team

It is very, very easy for a CEO to take on too many things. It is very easy for a CEO to step back and say, well, I’m better at doing that. I should do that. It’s very easy to think this may not go as well if I delegate it, and yet a critical success factor to help manage your team is to become a world-class delegator. This has to do with some of the things I’ve spoken about already, to educating your team on how to do things well by creating great clarity on what it is they are to do and coaching them on how to get this done. But then you step back and you let them do it.

One of the most critical factors for effective team management and great delegation is active listening. So if I’m the CEO and I’m going to delegate something, I’m going to do all these things I just spoke about, but when done giving you responsibility to take something on, I’m going to pause. I’m going to ask that individual to feed back to me their understanding of what it is I’m asking them to do. Now, what is amazing about this is that nearly every time you ask that question and what they feed back to you is not exactly what you said. It’s a little bit different. This gives you an opportunity to fine-tune that thing that is off to clarify exactly what you are looking for. Absolutely critical step in delegating. 

Refuse to Take on Responsibility for Your Management Team’s Challenges and Build Individual Agency

Next, in managing a team, you should refuse to take on the responsibility of their challenges. Now there are exceptions where there are certain things that only you can help with that might have to do with more budget or more hiring or more other resources. But when a direct report of yours brings you a problem, don’t accept it. What I’m going to ask you to do is to gently push back and say, well, I’m not going to be solving your problem. I need you to bring me a recommendation.

I want you to go off and think about what that recommendation can be. And then I’ll discuss a recommendation with you. Now what’s amazing is that when people go off and think about things, they come up with pretty good recommendations. And what really happens is eventually they realize that the last three recommendations they brought to you- If they are a good employee- you accepted. You said approved, go for it, make it happen. And eventually, they stop bringing you recommendations because they realize they have the skills to solve problems on their own. And this is what you were really looking for. Next, we will review how to build a great management team and manage them.

Create a Strong Alignment of Goals Across Your Team

Have weekly meetings. I am often surprised at how people do not have weekly meetings with their direct reports in those weekly meetings. Remember those team goals we were talking about? Or those key results we were talking about? Review the progress against those goals or key results. Have that person update you on what’s happening with those goals and key results. And if they are behind somewhere, which invariably they will be, they bring you recommendations on what they are going to be doing about that. So you create alignment around what they are trying to accomplish and clarity around what they are trying to accomplish every week.

Reward Your Team for Good Performance

Finally, reward people. No direct report to a CEO has ever said, please stop rewarding me for the good work I’m doing. You are saying too many nice things about what I’m doing. No one has ever said that. People crave acknowledgment. They crave feedback that tells them they are doing a good job when they are doing a good job. Consider team performance spot bonuses, simple things, small things that reward them for good behavior, good accomplishments, and good results. These are some key ideas for you on how to manage your team.

Contact CEO Coach Glenn Gow Today!

My name is Glenn Gow, CEO Coach. I love coaching CEOs and want to help make you an even better CEO. Let’s decide if we are a fit for each other. Schedule a time to talk with me at calendly.com/glenngow. I look forward to speaking with you soon.


Take Their Word For It

What Glenn’s Clients are Saying…


Janice Raises Over $100M for Her Company

Janice Raises Over $100M for Her Company

As one of the founders, Janice had created the perfect solution in an exploding market. As her CEO Coach, we worked very hard to create a scalable business model that significantly accelerated revenue growth. This model included geographic expansion, the addition of new product offerings, and stickiness to create repeat business.

This triple revenue-acceleration model not only worked but it attracted the interest of growth investors.

But a growth model wasn't enough. We needed to help Janice become a better CEO. Specifically, we worked on how to manage her board, so their faith in her as the CEO grew as time went on.

For some CEOs, the board can be intimidating. At first, it was for Janice as well. We worked on how to manage the board and get the most out of the board. Ultimately, we turned the board into a strong set of advisors and advocates for Janice as the CEO.

The support and confidence of the existing board was a critical factor in enabling her to raise well over $100M in the next round, increasing the valuation by more than $600M.

Darren Raises His First $3 Million

Darren Raises His First $3 Million

My CEO client (Darren) was starting a company in a new category. He was focused on raising capital for his business and wanted help crafting his story. Darren is a brilliant CEO, yet he realized he could produce a better story with help from someone who has created successful fundraising stories many times.

When we started working together, his story was overly complex, difficult for investors to understand, and not as strong as it could have been. Together we built a story about the tremendous value the company was creating. We used historical precedent to bolster the vision and mission. We gave investors confidence in the founders. We proved that the company could scale.

Investors are pattern-matchers. They look for the patterns that tell them this opportunity is like other opportunities they’ve seen, giving them a strong belief in the potential ROI. Together, Darren and I constructed a winning story that helped key investors see the patterns of success.

According to Darren, “Glenn gave me the perspective and confidence I needed to succeed.” Darren raised $3 million for his startup company in his first round. Darren has continued to successfully raise money in later rounds as well.

Meilin Creates A Scaling Organization

Meilin Creates A Scaling Organization

Meilin was always asking, "How can I help my company grow faster?" She was successful by most measures but had higher growth ambitions.

As her CEO Coach, I helped focus her efforts and energies on an often-overlooked area for many CEOs. This area enables scaling and enables the CEO to manage their team more effectively -- values.

Most CEOs have corporate values but don't use them as the ultimate way to install a belief system - a way for every employee to focus on the most critical issues for the company.

Meilin and I worked on making the values core to the thinking and speaking of the management team. Once the management team adopted these values and started speaking about them in their regular communications, we knew that we were on our way to ensuring that every employee “lived” the values.

While values are not the only thing a company needs to grow fast, they are critical to its success. Meilin's company is now growing over 100%.

Sean Gets It All Done

Sean Gets It All Done

As CEO, Sean had no work-life balance, and he was struggling with the overwhelming responsibilities of being a CEO. One of the biggest challenges of any CEO is to get everything done. The list of critical items seems to grow every day.

As his CEO coach (and as a former CEO), I recognized the stress he was under. That level of stress is no fun. To help Sean become a better CEO, I focused him on delegation, talent development, and balance.

First, we focused on developing Sean's delegation skills. Delegation is the "8th wonder of the world." When you make it work, your workload diminishes, and the company performs at a higher level. As Sean became better at delegating, he also began to see strengths and weaknesses in his leadership team from a different perspective.

The next step was to refresh his leadership team. We created a plan to either develop the ones that could step it up and perform better or find new leadership team members for those that couldn't help the company grow.

Finally, we worked on creating a way of living for Sean that provided him some balance. I tell my CEOs to "put their oxygen mask on first." If a CEO wants to perform at the highest level, they need to take care of themselves first.

Now that Sean has a much better leadership team, he has become a master delegator. By delegating many of the activities he had taken on before, he now has much more time to take care of himself.

Sean's company has now entered a new growth phase. More importantly, he is enjoying his work a lot more and his life a lot more.

Viraj Fires His “Best” Employee

Viraj Fires His “Best” Employee

As a CEO, Viraj was focused on employee retention. He recognized the value of keeping high-performing employees and the high cost of turnover.

One of Viraj's direct reports was one of his "best" employees. This person consistently out-performed against their targets. Within their function, they were a rock star.

However, this same person was toxic to the rest of the organization. They constantly argued with others, and they made most others feel bad about themselves. Viraj found he was spending a great deal of time managing around the toxicity created by this employee.

Viraj valued this person's contributions within their function, and he also really hated the idea of employee turnover. As a result, Viraj put up with this person and continued to work around the toxicity issue.

As Viraj's CEO Coach, I helped him understand that team alignment and team cohesion are critical factors to help the company grow. We agreed that preventing employee turnover is a good goal, but not at the expense of creating a well-functioning team.

Viraj wanted to become a better CEO, and he knew what he had to do. While it was difficult, he decided to fire the person he once thought was his "best" employee.

The first thing he heard from the rest of his direct reports was, "What took you so long?"

Olivia Finds Product-Market Fit

Olivia Finds Product-Market Fit

Olivia, my CEO client, is a product genius. She is highly creative, an excellent problem-solver, and knows how to get products out the door on time.

Olivia raised a great deal of money based on her product ideas and some early successes. The challenge was that her company wasn't growing fast enough. The pressure from the investors was building, and she was worried.

Raising a lot of money early is a blessing and a curse. The curse is that Olivia delivered her product too quickly. She delivered it, making too many assumptions about the market she was serving. When the product was released, it was a good fit but not a great fit.

Olivia was concerned about the time and dollars it would take to conduct research and test product-market fit in multiple market segments. We created a partnering strategy that enabled us to test multiple new market segments in a short time.

Olivia has found multiple market segments that are a fit for the product. Now that she has achieved product-market fit, the strategy is to "go big" on the go-to-market. And her company is taking off.

Wilson Turns the Board Around

Wilson Turns the Board Around

Wilson was a first-time CEO. The company was doing well, but not quite as well as the board had hoped. Wilson found himself uncomfortable as a minority shareholder working with a board that could fire him if he didn't perform.

Wilson wanted to know how to manage a Board of Directors. The first step was to acknowledge that a board has different measures of success than the CEO. That means there will naturally be tension. The second step was to dig in to deeply understand what the key drivers are for each board member.

Based on this information, Wilson can now address his needs, the company's needs, and the board's needs. That was the first breakthrough.

Once he knew how to address the needs of the board, we turned to address his needs. As Wilson's CEO Coach, I helped him realize that the board is an incredible asset to leverage.

Wilson began to build relationships with the board members individually to understand better how they could be of service to him and the company.

When Wilson works with the board, he is fully aware of their needs and addresses them appropriately. More importantly, he now tells the board what he is doing and relies on their insight and experience for feedback on how to help the company perform at a higher level.

Wilson is no longer concerned about the board and now gets more out of them than ever before.

Darius Solved His Crisis

Darius Solved His Crisis

I got the call at 10 PM on a Thursday. Darius, a CEO client, reached out to me just as I was about to end the day. "Glenn, my Chief Revenue Officer, just resigned, and I'm not sure what to do."

Darius was running a rapidly-growing business that was highly dependent on a well-run sales organization. He had delegated sales responsibility to his Chief Revenue Officer so Darius could focus on engineering and product.

The good news is that Darius didn't relinquish oversight or reporting of sales, just sales execution. It's also true that Darius wasn't in a panic, and we had worked on a plan for the departure of each of his direct reports.

At the moment, though, Darius and I needed to review that plan to ensure it was our best option. We checked whether or not the interim head of sales could genuinely step into the role. We discussed which accounts Darius should immediately nurture relationships with. We agreed that the recruiter we would need was still the right recruiter.

We quickly put together a communication plan on how to bring this news to the leadership team and the rest of the company. We worked on the exact next steps to interact with the interim head of sales, the director of sales operations, and HR.

Darius felt he didn't know what to do, but in actuality, he did. We had prepared for this, and he just needed to talk it through in the heat of the moment so he could execute against the plan immediately.

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