5 Things a CEO Should Never Do

“How to be a CEO.” It’s a popular Google search phrase. So much so, in fact, there are about 1,130,000,000 results (yes, that’s billions). The abundance of articles, blogs, infographics, and tweets about seeing, becoming, and conquering it as a CEO are overwhelming at best. The truth, however, is this: if you’re searching this topic, you’re either already in the position or being considered for it. So, the chances are great you already have much of what it takes to be a CEO.

Instead, let’s take this from another angle and look not at what it takes to be good, but the things that will keep you from being bad. Here’s a list of the five things a CEO should never do:

  1. Avoid risks—It is your job as CEO to be a risk manager for the company. Yet, not all risk is bad risk. The chance to expand into other markets or to offer a new product or service has inherent risk; but, avoiding these types of risk will simply keep the company going at status quo, which means it will most likely not be able to effectively compete for the long-run. In this instance, avoiding this type of potentially positive risk places the company at a greater, negative risk.

  2. Relying on the tried and true—It’s easy to get stuck in our ways. When something works, it’s especially hard to make a decision regarding adjustments. It’s the old cliché: Why fix it if it isn’t broken? If we all stuck instead of tried, however, there wouldn’t be improvements. It’s critical therefore to be open to new ideas, new approaches, and new ways of doing things. Listen carefully to the ideas of others; you never know where the next big thing will come from.

  3. Being a martyr—A martyr is one who sacrifices self for a cause in which he or she deeply believes. And, while this approach is very tempting to many CEOs, it’s also a disservice to self and company. If you don’t allow the people around you to take responsibility and perform their share of the work, you aren’t leveraging your resources properly, which every good leader should do. You are also running the risk of not only coming up short if doing everything on your own, but also burning yourself out.

  4. Neglecting to set an example—You are the ultimate example of what a representative of your company should be. Don’t make the mistake of asking your employees to “do as I say, not as I do.” They won’t. You’ll lose your credibility and have the potential to lose good people as well.

  5. Forgetting to be human—There was this commercial in the 1980s that emphasized the tagline: Never let’em see you sweat. And, while that’s good advice for appearance, your people will find it much easier to like and follow someone with which they can identify. Don’t be bigger than life. Be accessible, take responsibility for actions, and let your people know you care. As Jimmy Johnson once said, “The only thing worse than a coach or CEO who doesn't care about his people is one who pretends to care. People can spot a phony every time.”