The two most important questions a CEO needs to ask.

June 1, 2020
By Rowan Belchers

When I work with CEOs the first question I ask is:

“What do you want”?

Most of the time, the answer is unformed as it’s a surprisingly complex question to answer. The small answer is easy: success and happiness and peace are ones I hear a lot.

But these aren’t sufficient answers and a far more considered, layered, wide-perspective answer is required if you’re actually going to get what you want.

The way I take the conversation further is by asking these questions (they aren’t unique to me, it’s a fairly well-known but very effective technique):

  1. Where does your business play?
  2. How does your business win?

The underpinning intention behind these questions is to compete – or out-compete. They are fundamentally competitive questions: the business that answers them best has the best chance of winning.

And so to today’s pandemic-impacted business environment. Unless there is a sector that I’m not aware of that is unaffected by Covid-19, my view is that every single CEO needs to go back to the above questions and:

  • Answer them again.
  • Make sure your old assumptions (i.e. customer, price, market size etc.) still hold.
  • Strip out any bias about your answer to the above.
  • Be very swift about changing your answers.
  • Operationalise deep into the business so that no-one is headed off on an outdated path.

The above is part of the hard yards of being a safe and effective CEO and making sure your strategy is as bedded down as possible. So much depends on this.

Rowan Belchers

Rowan Belchers

Rowan Belchers is the founder and CEO of Lockstep, a business leadership consultancy. Lockstep works with CEO’s, executive teams and future leaders across the African continent, 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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