Growing up to be a CEO

Keeping it Real Series!
Ever since L…. and I started PearlsOnly  and I gradually stepped up into the CEO role, I had felt quite odd holding the CEO title.  I knew that for where this was going a CEO is the exact right title, and that I had to wear it and get it used, but inside I wasn’t a CEO –I was just a guy.  I had managed projects, managed ‘teams’ and I did ‘lead’ teams – BUT – I always had someone behind me – a backstop of some sort.    Chief Executive Officer means that there is no back stops – there is no one to pick you up – to guide you.  Its you.   It means that the skill set you must bring to the table is tremendous.  And frankly, for a long time I did not feel like my skill sets match my title.  
For example, in the first few years, I was a horrible manager, never mind a leader.   I remember firing people for ‘not reading’ my mind.  I didn’t have the patience to give people a chance.   I didn’t understand what made organizations tick, what made a company a place you wanted to work vs one where you worked.   I knew what HR was BUT I didn’t realize its full power.  I knew in theory that people had to have autonomy, but I didn’t know how to let go.    I wasn’t interested in finance and its importance on the business (ie. salary raises, bonuses) that it had to bring to the people that worked.
In short, I felt I short on my skills.   And I had this ‘huge’ title that I had to live up to.  And I knew that for PearlsOnly (and now RedStores) to be good, I had to improve myself.      I think this is why you at look at my reading list there is many titles, I was working to live up to what I supposed to be!
But, over last year, this feeling of ‘fake’ CEO has gone.   I feel like I was able to elevate to the next level.  When I introduce myself now, CEO rolls of my tongue.  I don’t have any hesitation, and I feel comfortable.   I’m no longer ‘faking’ it – I’m there.  
So, how does a CEO feel?
1.  Insightful – I look at the whole organization, and I can clearly see how it looks and its strengths and weakness.   This came with knowledge and learning.
2. Appreciative – I begun to look for the good in all the people – and not focus on the weaknesses.  I a way, I think personally I had accepted my own weaknesses – and that had allowed me to allow weakness in others.  I learned how to appreciate the strengths.
3. Caring – I care much more about my staff than results.   I was so result focused before that I would destroy anything, anyone that stood in my way.     Now, I care about the impact of my decisions on everyone – and I am able to hold back – to make sure that I don’t wipe out people on the way to results.
4. Confident – I feel the trust everyone has placed in me – I feel their support and trust.    Its an amazing feeling and quite sure I’m not imagining it.  It no longer about ME, but about US!
5. Pride – I’m very proud of everyone that works for RedStores.   I can see and feel the great thing that we build (yes, we, not me) – and I can appreciate that this is something that is greater than one person.  
6. Sure – its different than confident.  Sure to me means I am ‘sure’ about the direction, plan and abilities.    I know the weak points of the organization, but I am sure that they will be overcome.
7. Determined – by this, I don’t mean determined to win.  But rather the movements of the company are well honed, controlled and managed.  Opposed to chaotic, reactive and panicked.
Overall, I have been walking with this feeling of finally becoming a CEO for several months.   Its no longer a stressor for me to wear this badge, but rather a pleasure to have an opportunity to do something meaningful.  
Of course I’m going to continue and and grow and become an even better CEO.    But I do feel like I am now in the CEO zone.    The badge of CEO now matches what I felt a CEO should be.  Its taken me a while to get here, and now I’m here.   It feels great!    I’m truly enjoying this moment.    I feel peace.

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