The CEO’s dance between dreaming & grit

August 5, 2019
By Rowan Belchers

I’ve found that there is a hierarchy of needs in business which is a combination between:

  • Foundation: i.e. cash flow management;
  • Middle-ground: i.e. crafting a strategy and
  • Higher-order thinking: i.e. finding purpose in your business.

While I write a lot about higher-order topics the truth is that CEOs have to earn the right to make this their focus. And earning that right involves grit, inch-gains, staying the distance and getting something over the line.

The mistake I’ve seen CEOs make is getting the order wrong: if you neglect the grit and over-indulge yourself in the dreaming, the higher-order ideas will not stick and you will likely find yourself on the sharp end of the consequences of getting the grit wrong.

Examples of these mistakes include:

  • not setting revenue targets;
  • not managing board relationships;
  • insufficient focus on sales and sales pipeline;
  • being loose about business focus and strategic intent and
  • not enforcing accountability.

This is mostly a result of things you’d rather avoid which might include tough conversations to have, complex projects that don’t have a clear way forward and or hard truths about the business.

This topic is important to discuss as most of the business narrative these days focuses on the higher-order topics, which is good news overall, as it means we are maturing as a community. However, it does have some pitfalls that we must all be aware of. Part of the craft of becoming a CEO is having full access to not only the big-picture thinking but also to the unglamorous endeavour that is often the making or breaking of a business.

A few useful questions to ask yourself:

  1. What does your type naturally lean toward – grit or dreaming? If you haven’t completed an Enneagram profile, you should consider it – it’s a game-changer and fast-forwards you years ahead of your natural self-development path in one fell swoop.
  2. If it’s dreaming, do you have someone around you that mitigates this by being super-detail orientated?
  3. Does your business – taking the broadest possible view of it – feel ‘loose’ or ‘tight’?
  4. If you lean toward ‘grit’, does your business require you to inject a sense of wonderment into your business?
Rowan Belchers

Rowan Belchers

Rowan is the founder and CEO of Lockstep, a business leadership consultancy. Lockstep works with CEO’s, executive teams and future leaders globally, partnering with clients who seek customised leadership solutions. Rowan is a highly respected advisor to CEOs with over two decades’ experience in guiding businesses and their leaders towards reaching their fullest potential. Rowan leads The CEO Project, a Lockstep initiative.
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