Monday, July 30, 2012

Making Your Points When it Counts. How to Talk with the CEO

I asked Chris Dennis to give us his advice on How to Talk to your CEO.
His Article is here...   enjoy.
Santa Barbara, California Business Coaches   Patty DeDominic

How Do You Talk With The CEO?

Chris Dennis

In working with people from Board Rooms to 3rd shift operations around the world I have learned that we all have more in common than differences—This also applies to CEO’s. We all want to care for our families, have purpose behind our work and be recognized for our contributions. Establishing a good relationship with the CEO, regardless of your organizational level, can benefit everyone and contributes to the principle of “Enlightened self- interest.”

Unless you have immediate access and even if you do it’s critical that you have a good working relationship with the CEO’s Administrative Assistant for much of their job is to protect the time constraints impacting the Boss. Gaining access to the CEO is possible in most organizations by anyone who is prepared and respectful of the time allocated.

Offered below are 14 additional suggestions for your consideration;

• Don’t procrastinate- take action,

• Be prepared, do your homework, review the organizations published communications, Web site, strategy, vision, operating guidelines etc.

• While you have a specific need don’t forget that CEO’s are like everyone else, they are motivated also by self-interest, What’s the benefit for the CEO in your thinking and what you may propose?

• Know what you hope to accomplish, you will have time to discuss your primary concern but find out what is important to the CEO right now as it relates to the business in general or your functional area,

• Avoid highly technical questions as the CEO is usually more concerned about strategy or should be vs. remaining the organizations technical expert in any functional area,

• Ask open-ended questions e.g. Where are we going as an organization, what’s the strategy, what are our biggest opportunities, biggest obstacles etc.

• If you have a concern always be prepared to make a few suggestions as to solutions,

• Stress Team process whenever possible for effective team work is mandatory for long term organizational success,

• Focus on Action and measurable results not activities,

• Please “stay in character,” be yourself as we are all different while respecting what each of us can contribute through authenticity,

• While maintaining your authenticity try to incorporate/mirror some of the CEO’s behavior, mannerisms and ideas in your discourse, which should be in alignment with the organizations Mission, Vision and Values. We all relate better to others who we believe share common beliefs, {To gain a more in depth understanding of individual style and temperament you may want to review “MYERS-Briggs Type Indicator.”}

• Always express appreciation by saying “thank you” for their time,

• If appropriate a short summary of your actions/results in bulleted list format will reinforce your reliability, Keep others informed if appropriate e.g. immediate supervision, Follow communications protocol, always,

• Establish trust with the CEO through trustworthy behavior e.g. follow-up, follow-through on agreed upon actions and No gossiping!!

Talking with the CEO and establishing a good relationship is important. Communicating up/down and laterally compliments one of the CEO’s principle responsibilities of creating a culture that maximizes performance while creating opportunities. When the focus is on collaboration, learning and recognition it fosters more effective communication at all levels, improves organizational results and builds continuity for the future. This creates an organization where people really want to be, a distinct competitive advantage that benefits everyone.

You can reach Christopher Dennis at or by scheduling a free half hour consultation in our offices in Santa Barbara, California or on skype or GoToMeeting.    


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