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The #1 Secret of a Top CEO

I’m a business coach, so when a highly successful CEO tells me the biggest lesson he’s learned as a leader, I’m tuned in and listening. 

And maybe it’s just serendipity … or maybe it’s the Universe sending me a message I need to hear … but it’s a theme that’s been smacking me upside the head multiple times in the last couple of months. 

It’s funny how that happens, isn’t it, that when you need to learn or reinforce your understanding of an important principle, challenges show up in your life to help you process the message?  Often in spades and often rather rudely.

In my case, my property manager in Mexico failed to get our place cleaned for incoming guests and then she didn’t notify me we had a problem.  That left it to the guests to inform me.  I was mortified.

I’ve had a cleaning person here in North Carolina not show up repeated times without even contacting me to tell me she wasn’t coming.  When I would reach out to her, it was always an “emergency.”  She made no attempt to reschedule. 

And, I’ve had to let an office assistant go after she really messed up bigtime on an important job.  I like her a lot, but I just couldn’t delegate any important tasks with confidence going forward.  There were questions she should have asked and details I should have confirmed, so we were both responsible.

And, it’s not just me.  Other folks are telling me they’re seeing the same trends with all kinds of service providers!

Tales of woe, but the point isn’t to complain.  It’s to divine the common thread running through each of these examples, one that just happens to relate directly to our CEO’s nugget of wisdom.

The most important thing he learned?

The art of overcommunicating.

What does that mean exactly?  When it comes to the communication you initiate, it means you leave nothing to chance.  You spell out what you want and repeat the message as often as it takes for it to register.  And then you verify that your “receiver” got the message.  Don’t assume.

But there’s also the communication you respond to.  How responsive are you?  Do you get back to folks quickly when they have a request?

How timely are you in letting people know when plans have changed … an appointment time won’t work or you can’t meet an obligation … or when there’s a problem that needs to be resolved so things can move forward?

In other words, how good are you at staying in communication about anything that’s important.  Your clients know where they stand and feel comfortable with you and the process.

The better you are at this, the better a CEO you are, and the more success you’ll have.

And no matter how small your operations are, you ARE the CEO of your business, and your challenges aren’t really all that different from those of the big shots who run multinational corporations.

You both have to interact with people in ways that give people confidence, reduce uncertainty, and move the ball forward and get results.

Look, there are times when going that extra mile to overcommunicate is inconvenient, and there are times when it might seem like overkill.  I get that.  You don’t want to insult people by giving too much direction, micromanaging, or endlessly confirming understanding.

But here’s the thing about OVERcommunicating.  The risk is small.  You might waste a little time.  You could irritate.  I get it.  I’ve done it.  But the reward far outweighs the price you pay.  Err on the side of communicating too much vs. too little.

The happy news?  I’ve found a house cleaner who is all about communicating and squeezing out any uncertainty around what I’d like her to do and not do.  I love her already!

A former treasured assistant is back helping me virtually, looking out for me in every way.  Our communication is robust and enjoyable.

And another assistant, a real project manager, is routinely going the extra mile to anticipate what I need and fill in the blanks in more technical areas where I don’t know things or might have blind spots.  What a joy!

Communication … it’s the oil in the engine of commerce.  Make sure there’s plenty of it and that it’s flowing freely. 

Best wishes,


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