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CEOs Need to Reassess, Reset to Stay Successful Midterm

April 26, 2018

ou’ve made it through your first year as CEO—assessing the business, formulating a vision and strategy, and building trust and legitimacy with some early wins. Now what?

A new article from Harvard Business Review offers advice for midtenure CEOs looking to make the most of their second acts.

Don’t let the organization slide back into “the old normal.” You’ve addressed the most urgent issues and made your mark on the company. Now it’s time to reinforce those changes and keep moving forward. It helps to regularly review the business with fresh eyes. One idea: imagine getting fired by the board and asking yourself what a new CEO would change.

Attack silos and broken processes. Midtenure is the time to tackle ingrained practices and work on getting groups to trust one another, share ideas and focus on external competition. To break down walls and eliminate disparate agendas, consider focusing compensation structures on overall corporate goals rather than on individual unit results.

Don’t get complacent about assessing talent. Review your leadership team. Think of it as a “re-recruitment process.” Ask yourself: Is this person going to help carry us forward, given the current strategy? It’s also time to unleash your team’s latent potential through support and mentoring—in essence, go from team captain to coach.

Encourage constructive dissent and disruption. By midtenure, “people have an understanding of how you respond in different scenarios. Everybody knows what you want to hear, so that’s what they tell you,” one interviewed CEO said. To combat this, try to “surround yourself with people who are willing to tell you the truth and create mechanisms where they can tell you the truth…Demonstrate that you can act on their input intelligently,” said another CEO.

See the full HBR article to find more tips for midtenure CEOs as well as excerpts from the interviews: “How Successful CEOs Manage Their Middle Act.”

Ji Park