Your future: will you be “the CEO” three years from now?



an ebook


Ciarán Fenton

How small changes in behaviour have a big impact on how we work, lead or follow

That’s the title of an ebook I’m initially, as a series of blogs index here on The ebook is a framework for a longer book.

Section 1.1Your future: will you be “the CEO” three years from now?

your career equity

How will your career equity look in three years time?

By career equity I mean the intersection of the perceived strength of your CV by you and or the market, the perceived level of your emotional intelligence (EQ) by others and your reputation (PR).

If you are, for example, “the CEO” today, will you still be the CEO three years from now? Will you have changed or developed at all in respect of your self-awareness, empathy or ability to negotiate your needs productively? Will people be saying the same things about you behind your back, good or bad then as they are now?

To what extent do you feel that you can control the arc of your career over the next three years? In career planning terms two years is too short a horizon and five too long.

In respect of your career equity it will depend on the extent to which that you can today, and I mean today, start to make small changes in the emotional intelligence (EQ) component of your career equity that will most likely help you get to what you want.

Any changes in your CV and PR components will follow from changes in your EQ component.

Specifically, that means increasing the extent to which you empathise with others, deepening your self-awareness and changing the manner in which you get your needs met so that it becomes more productive for all involved .

A small change in your levels of empathy might mean that today in your interactions, and I mean today, especially with people who work for you, that you include just one question in each interaction which forces you to put your self in their position.

For example:

  • How are you?
  • Does this make sense to you?
  • What problems might this present to you?

A small change in deepening your self-awareness might include counting up to ten mentally before you do or saying anything to give yourself time to check in more deeply than usual as to what you feel at deeper level instead of acting or reacting on autopilot.

With CEOs anger can be there most feared emotion and therefore their preferred method of control. But anger is a shallower emotion than for example anxiety. So if you feel angry with someone at work you may find that your deeper feeling is one of worry or anxiety. So instead of shouting or shaming you might start by saying “I feel very concerned about the impact of this on x, y z or on me”.

Starting a sentence with “I feel…” will stop you from shaming which is the scourge of business life.

The quality of the outcomes to your organisation resulting from this small change in your behaviour brought about by a deepening in your self-awareness will be much higher than before, especially in a crisis.

If today, and I mean today, you start making small changes in how you get your needs met you will find that that there will be a bigger impact on the outcomes than the effort you put into to making those small changes.

If you are “the CEO” and if your usual style of getting your needs met is x then I suggest that today, and I mean today, you add a new component, y, to your behaviour where y is a mental or verbal checking- in that you and the other person or persons have precisely the same shared purpose or not.

Frequently in my work with CEOs I find that they become very frustrated with colleagues only to find on deeper analysis through my 1-1s with everyone that their colleagues are looking at matters through completely different purpose lenses than the CEO is.

It takes only a few minutes to step back and set your request or command in the context of a shared organisational purpose whereas days, weeks and months can be lost if as CEO you feel that one your colleagues “just does’t get it”.

It’s not an “it” that they don’t get. It’s you they don’t get. And that’s your responsibility, not theirs.

And if you don’t get you on an emotionally intelligent level, how the hell do you expect them to get you?

So, if you are “the CEO”:

  • are you likely to be “the CEO” in three years time?
  • if yes, why, and how will you have changed, if at all?
  • if not, will you have jumped or been pushed

Whatever you do, start making just small changes in your behaviour today, and I mean today for as Primo Levi wrote: “If not now, when?”

Ciarán Fenton

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