Anyone can learn from the practices that the best leaders use to make their companies great, but it's also valuable to look at what they don't do.
"Slowly but surely, getting bogged down in the wrong tasks will bring down even the strongest executives," says Jim Alampi, CEO of Alampi & Associates, a Detroit-based leadership firm that has worked with Deloitte, Exxon Mobile, and IBM.
In his 30 years working with leaders in businesses of all sizes, he's found that the most successful are those that maximize efficiency and waste as little time as possible.
According to Alampi, the best CEOs do not:Wear many hats
Great CEOs do not involve themselves in the nitty-gritty of their companies, but rather groom employees for leadership positions in every division.
"Smart CEOs do not build their companies around any one individual," Alampi says. "They know they have to 'delegate or die.'"Make perfect decisions
"A key to success is taking action and not deferring it until the perfect answer or complete consensus is achieved," Alampi says. An executive afraid of risk or criticism will only hold the company back. As Gen. George S. Patton said: "A good plan executed now is better than a perfect plan executed next week."Answer every question
A CEO is responsible for setting the direction of the company and hiring and retaining the best people to see that vision implemented. They are not, however, responsible for decisions that don't have a significant effect on the company.
"As an executive, if you allow your employees to ask you questions every time they don’t know the answer, you'll end up spending a chunk of your day doing your employees' work for them," Alampi says. "Plus, having your employees find the answers themselves allows them to grow and become leaders themselves."Attend many meetings
"You'd be shocked by how many meetings some executives attend that result in low-level content," Alampi says. Effective executives usually prefer five-minute briefings to 60-minute meetings. That said, knowing which meetings to attend for the sake of the company's overall direction is a vital skill to learn.Limit communication
Avoiding long meetings and low-level questions does not mean efficient CEOs shut themselves off from employees. Instead, they make an effort to drive home everything they'd like to communicate to their employees.
"Providing the same information via different channels increases the likelihood that employees will actually remember what you tell them," Alampi says.
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