Think like a CEO – Anyone can do it

As someone who’s followed an unlikely career path, starting as an entry-level shipping clerk and rising to CEO, I attribute my success to curiosity, drive, and self-directed learning. This, coupled with great mentors, allowed me to think like a CEO right from the start.

As a junior shipping clerk for a chemical manufacturing company, I started imagining what I could do to make the job more interesting. After gaining experience and understanding the workflow, I thought I could provide better service to my internal “customers” – my colleagues in our customer service, planning, production, engineering and quality.

Back then, it was common for customer service to call shipping to find out if an order they were tracking was ready to ship. My job was to check the order file and let them know if it was in the shipping department and if so, when it would be shipped. If the order was not being shipped, customer service would need to call other departments to try to find it, a long and frustrating process for them.

I realized that it would be easy for me to check other departments for orders because part of my job was to drive a forklift through the factory every few hours to move goods from department to department. the other. Since this would be a simple change in my work process, I offered to customer service to look up the orders in other departments and report to them. I could speed up the response time to the customer and that would make my job more interesting. My method worked and I was quickly recognized for my initiative.

Looking back, I now recognize that my thought process was a kind of vision. It was my “vision” to be helpful and improve communication between departments by just doing this relatively simple thing. My “goal”, I now realize, was to improve the order status process and my “strategy” was to create positive synergy by doing this simple incremental activity while following my normal routine. My ‘tactic’ was to look up the order in each department, find it and ask the supervisor when the order would be ready so that I could report this status to customer service and they could give the customer a status update of the order.

My way of thinking helped me stand out and I was quickly promoted and then promoted again. With each subsequent promotion, I continued to think like a CEO, each time developing a vision, setting a goal, and developing a strategy and tactics to achieve the vision.

Here are some tips to help you think like a CEO:

  1. Develop your vision– A vision is a mental picture of what you intend to do and accomplish. Keep it simple and write it down. It could be as simple as “My vision is to increase our service response time in order to increase customer satisfaction”.
  2. Set your goals– Once you have your vision statement, you need to define the goals to achieve the vision. It could be reducing response time by 50% or getting a 15% improvement in customer engagement surveys, or creating a financial metric like cost per response. Whatever you choose should make a real difference and be measurable so you know when you’ve refreshed your vision.
  3. Design your strategies– Once your goals are in place, you will need to develop a strategy to achieve them. A strategy is a plan of action or policy designed to achieve your overall goal. For example, the strategy for reducing response times is to implement a new process where you organize all your data in one place, making it easier and faster to respond to customer requests.
  4. Execute with clear tactics– While strategy is the blueprint that gets you where you want to go, tactics are individual steps you take along the way. Your tactic for executing your strategy could be to create a central file in which to review customer inquiries daily, respond to them by the end of the same day, and track the number of daily customer inquiries and daily responses to ensure you are meeting your daily goal.

Thinking like a CEO involves creating a vision, setting goals, and developing strategies and tactics to give you more control over your job and make it more interesting and less stressful. It’s a way to become more productive and broaden your perspective on what you can accomplish. At least that’s how it worked for me.


Written by Theodore (Ted) Clark.

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