How to Be the CEO of What You Do


So, you want to be the CEO? Whether you realize it or not, you have that opportunity every day.

At CollegePlus, we have 4 Core Values that we try to live by. These values shape how we do business, who we hire, our internal culture, how we view success, and almost everything we do. My personal favorite is “Be the CEO of what you do.”

Whether you are the janitor, a coach, or in IT, we want YOU to be the CEO of what YOU do. Does this mean everyone does as they please with no direction from leadership? No. Does it mean we don’t hold people accountable? Absolutely not. This value speaks to the attitude with which you approach your role.

Here’s what it means to be the CEO of what you do:

1. Understand the Why – It’s like the young bride who cuts the end off a roast before cooking it. Her husband asks her why and she responds, “I am not sure, it’s just how my mother does it.” Now curious, she calls her mother and asks her why. The mother responds in a similar fashion, “I am not sure exactly why, I just know it makes it taste better, and your grandmother always did it that way.” Now on a mission, the newlywed calls grandma and finally gets a straight answer. Grandma states, “I am not sure why you and your mother cut the end off your roast, but I did it because my pot was too small!” Until you understand why you are doing something, you can’t understand whether you’re doing it right or whether it needs doing at all!

2. Be a Thinker – We expect everyone from our executive team to our newest intern to be contributing fresh ideas and new ways of doing things. The person closest to the problem is usually the best one to develop a solution – if they are a thinker. The process that worked 6 months ago may not be the best solution today because circumstances change. Solutions for shipping 3 boxes are not the same as solutions for shipping 300 boxes. Training 5 coaches is not the same as training 50. The marketing message that worked last year may not work this year because the market has shifted. Business is challenging, but if the whole team is thinking – the challenge becomes an opportunity! Too many businesses today are shipping three hundred boxes with a process built for three.

3. Come with solutions, not just problems – A problem is like a monkey. When within your jurisdiction, don’t ever take the monkey off your back and put it on another coworker, your boss, or anyone else. Take ownership in problem solving. When you bring the problem to your boss, come prepared to answer the question, “What do you think we should do?”  This also requires self-restraint on the part of the boss to resist the temptation to reach out to take the monkey. A great reinforcing question a manager can ask is, “What are YOU going to do about the problem?”

Experiment with these concepts then come back and share the results. What does being the CEO of what you do mean to you? Can’t wait to hear from you!



Photo credit: rogerimp / Foter / CC BY

One thought on “How to Be the CEO of What You Do

  1. I know we would use the same idea when I played basketball, “make it the ‘big time’ where you’re at”. If we allowed ourselves to belittle one another with the thought, “It’s only junior college ball. Nobody cares”, how would we as a team get any better with an attitude like that?! Same goes with my current work position. I can allow myself to be negative and get down on myself for not having a more prominent title. Or I can be the best they’ve ever seen in this position, use it to gain experience, make a foundation, and allow it to push me towards becoming more successful. Easier said than done, I realize. Most of the time it is much more easier to get down on ourselves than to be positive. I know that I need to do a better job at this!

    Thanks Ry, you are spot on!

Leave a Reply to Britney Lord Cancel reply

Your email address will not be published.

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>