4 min read

How does a CEO influence strategic decisions?

By Lucy Palmer on 27-Jul-2021 14:36:30

Strategic management is arguably the most important job of the CEO. They make sure the day-to-day actions of the company line up with its overall mission.

If you’re involved in business, you’ll already know how complex decision-making can get. However, the role of the CEO is on another level. This is the pinnacle of strategic planning and they must face entirely new challenges.

We’ve put together some of the key actions the CEO should take when influencing strategic decisions.

Establish a Strong Company Culture

The first step for the CEO is setting out what they want to achieve. Before making any day-to-day decisions, they must make choices about the nature of the company they want to run. By shaping the company culture in a way that suits them, implementing strategic decisions at a later date will be much easier. 

Although the aim of the CEO should always be to achieve their company mission, there is no single ‘right way’ to do this. There are numerous different approaches they can take to management. Some leaders like to innovate policy, while others have faith in trusted methods. This depends on the nature of the company, the CEO’s experience, and the people they have around them.

The hiring process is a good place to start when establishing this culture. When positions are filled by the right people, the organisation thrives. We’ve written before about the importance of diversity in the workplace, and this is where it becomes important. With a diverse team, the CEO can set the right tone for the company going forward and choose which skills they want to prioritise.

Then they can begin to delegate, which leads to our second point:

Delegate Effectively

If a CEO wants to influence strategic decisions in the company, they must be an expert in delegation. Although the CEO takes the credit and responsibility for a company, any success is a combined effort. A good leader will fully understand the people working below them. Many novice executives attempt to ‘do it all’ by themselves, but this only shows inexperience.

Delegation isn’t just about knowing ‘who’ to delegate to, but also ‘how much’ to delegate to them. The CEO should check they are giving each member the right level of control. With this in mind, it’s important for a CEO to know their own weaknesses so they can design a stronger team. When the hiring process works well, other members will have the right experience to expand the CEO’s reach.

Adopt a Forward-Thinking Attitude

Now, we get to the active part of the decision-making process. There is always a balance between risk and reward in strategy, and the CEO should be intensely aware of this. Adopting a forward-thinking attitude will allow them to drive the company to achieve its potential.

This does not necessarily mean making reckless choices! It just means knowing when to take the right risks. Many CEOs are scared to gamble in case their shareholders are dissatisfied, but this can’t always work. To establish a good long-term strategy, risks should be taken in moderation.

Of course, this partly depends on the size of the organisation. For a small Board, there is a much clearer limit to how many risks you can take. Still, the CEO should approach decisions with an eye to the future and what they can do for the company. Some companies use Zero-Based Budgeting as a way to achieve this. Whatever tactics you use, a forward-thinking approach will inspire members of the Senior Leadership Team to do their best work!

Utilise Experience

Most CEOs will not have reached such a high position without some experience. The CEO must trust their business instincts, which will have served them well so far. Being a CEO is only a heightened form of the day-to-day decisions most senior managers make during their career.

We are often sceptical of a gut instinct that isn’t founded in numbers. However, these feelings are usually based on experience. As long as you can take a critical eye to these biases, they can be useful. Don’t make decisions on a whim, but do value the knowledge you have. There is a reason companies have a CEO and not a robot in charge of decisions.

Remain Flexible

Flexibility is a great, underrated asset to have when making strategic decisions as a CEO. The upset caused by the pandemic has shown how unpredictable the business world can be. Implementing adaptable policies can future-proof the company. This includes having a strong reviewing process so you can learn from mistakes.

Most companies will already have regular Board meetings to review the progress of the company. A CEO can review projects far more regularly and must choose when it’s appropriate. This too can be flexible! If projects are going badly, the CEO might want to adopt a hands-on approach. On the other hand, if projects are seeing success, they can take a step back. They might only need to monitor projects monthly.

The 40-30-20 rule might be a way to achieve this. It suggests leaders spend 40% of the time on their top priority, then 30% of the time on their second priority, then 20% of the time on their third priority, and so on.

Streamline Communication

To be a good leader, a CEO has to share their ideas with the whole team. Communication is crucial in business. It is all very well to trust the skills of your team, but you want them to put their energy into the right things. Make sure everyone is on the same page.

A Board portal like Convene can improve communication within your company. Whatever industry you work in, our all-in-one meeting management software is designed to help managers deliver effective policies. From creating an agenda to establishing a strong admin trail, every step of the process should be as smooth as possible. With the right software, the complex task of strategic planning can be much easier! Read our customer success stories or book a demo.

 

 

Lucy Palmer

Written by Lucy Palmer

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