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Successful CEOs Must Venture Beyond the Castle Walls

Get your eyes on the critical elements of your business


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“A ruler who hides behind paid executioners soon forgets what death is.” — Lord Stark of Winterfell, from “Game of Thrones”

I hope your business isn’t as bloody as “Game of Thrones,” but Stark makes a good point. Hiding behind the castle walls and having others do the dirty work means you soon forget what your business is about.

A key behavior entrepreneurs must learn is delegation. If you do everything yourself, you won’t grow. The flip side is the man or woman running a large organization, naturally surrounded by staff and accoutrements, can become unaware of what goes on outside the castle walls.

You don’t need an executive dining room and a corporate jet to become isolated. All it takes is a competent assistant and some good managers. Delegation, however, isn’t the same as abdication. The continuum from “I do everything” to “I do nothing” is wide.

I recently wrote about the seven questions CEOs must answer to have a healthy, aligned organization. Answering those questions and reinforcing those answers requires constant interaction with your people, customers and other resources. My most successful clients spend the majority of their time in one-on-ones or productive meetings, not hiding out on mahogany row.

By all means, delegate effectively and establish the processes to gather information, synthesize it and make decisions. But … get your eyes on the critical elements of your business. You also must be prepared to make the tough decisions, like Lord Stark.

I can tell you from experience that half-hearted CEOs who rarely venture outside the castle walls end up with dysfunctional (or worse) organizations.

What practices do you have to stay current with your team and customers?

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Todd Ordal

Todd Ordal is president of Applied Strategy®. Todd helps CEOs achieve better financial results, become more effective leaders and sleep easier at night. He is a former CEO and has led teams as large as 7,000. Todd is the author of Never Kick a Cow Chip On A Hot Day: Real Lessons for Real CEOs and Those Who Want To Be (Morgan James Publishing, 2016). Connect with Todd on LinkedIn, Twitter, call 303-527-0417 or email todd@toddordal.com.

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