small change: your CEO, or you

small change
Ciarán Fenton
How small changes in your behaviour have a big impact on how you work, lead or follow
That’s the working title of a book I’m writing, initially as a series of short blogs.

Blog 2 small change: your career is a unique business

Blog 3 small change: your soft balance sheet

Blog 4 small change: your D Liability

Blog 5 small change: your timeline

Blog 6 small change: your formative years

Blog 7 small change: your A asset

Blog 8 small change: your career equity

Blog 9 small change: your curriculum vitae

Blog 10 small change: your emotional intelligence

Blog 11 small change: your reputation

Blog 12 small change: you, three years from now

Blog 13 small change: your purpose, strategy & behaviour (PSB)

Blog 14 small change: your soft p&l

Blog 15 small change: your 7 career options

Blog 16 small change: your relationship grid

Blog 17 small change: you are not a human capital asset

Blog 18 small change: your 7-step job search plan

Blog 19 small change: your 3-step interview plan (1)

Blog 20 small change: your 3-step interview plan (2)

Blog 21 small change: your 3-step interview plan (3)

Blog 22 small change: your job search funnel

Blog 23 small change: your reactive job search

Blog 24 small change: your proactive job search

Blog 25 small change: your first 100 days

Blog 26 small change: your operating board

Blog 27 small change: your main board

Blog 28 small change: your CEO, or you

small change

Seven principles

Principle 4

A shared Organisation PSB

  • shared purpose,
  • strategy
  • and behaviour in your organisation
  • is key to its success


Blog 28  small change: your CEO, or you

you as ceo main board

your as ceo ops board


Your CEO is (or you are), and it’s worth pointing out the obvious because some forget it and others ignore it, the chief executive officer in your organisation. ‘Tis clear. Unambiguous. It is, as they say, “what’s on the tin”. The keyword is “Chief”. Just reflect, briefly, on the word “chief” before reading on.

Your CEO does three things and three things only. Or should.

  1. Help the people they lead to thrive
  2. Lead on a shared purpose, strategy and behaviour
  3. Honour all stakeholders

I have worked with scores of CEOs, all of them driven but each of variable IQ and EQ, and few do all three things well.

Some are brilliant at No2 and less so at 1 and 3, except in delighting shareholders, of course.

All, except the pathological and narcissistic and I have met a few of those, are capable of so much more if they made small changes in their behaviour in their three responsibilities:

Help the people they lead to thrive

CEOs don’t lead everyone in an organisation. They may and should inspire all but they lead or should lead, only a few – the people on their operating board.

Small change: find out what each person on your board needs to thrive and help them meet their needs. This is tough work. It’s emotionally demanding. You may not even like them. You don’t have to. But your job is to help them be the best they can be.

Lead on purpose, strategy and behaviour (PSB)

It’s your job to ensure that the people at the top of your organisation agree on a shared purpose, strategy and behaviour to implement the plan.

The keyword here is “shared”. Most boards I work with have not gone through the pain of negotiating with each other a shared purpose, and consequently, their strategy is misdirected and their plans often go awry.

Small change: don’t write your business plan until your organisation’s PSB is shared by all on your main and operating boards. This too is hard work.

Honour all stakeholders

You must maximise profit (P) but not at the cost of the environment, society and governance (ESGP). It’s that simple.

Small change: embrace ESGP now. The ESG trend is not going away.

Once upon a time, I worked with a CEO who was a self-confessed micro-manager. He had high EQ. He knew that his behaviour stemmed from his formative years’ experiences. He was not allowed to fail when growing up. Ever. The consequences for him were severe if he did. If we don’t allow our children to fail, they will grow up to be micro-managing CEOs. In our work together he agreed to make a small change in his behaviour: to micro-manage 10% less, i.e. ten times out of every hundred interactions. He was so driven that he proudly reported not just a 10% reduction but a minimum of 20% reduction in his micro-managing behaviour. And it was true. His board were happier, he had more time because micro-managing eats time and, crucially, he learned that he could trust his board members more. This was a win-win-win. A win for him, for his colleagues and his organisation.

Do you know any micro-managing CEOs?

Are you one?


Ciarán Fenton











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