Keith, CEO of a Fortune 500 financial organization, called with an intriguing project—one I’ve never been asked to repeat elsewhere, but one with fascinating results.

The Project

the ceo magazine, business growth,

We most often use the term “one hit wonder” to describe music performers who have had a single success. Sometimes these one-hit wonders produced novelty songs such as Jeannie C. Riley’s 1968 number-one hit “Harper Valley PTA.” In spite of the song gracing the charts in the 60s, hardly anyone today would admit to thinking the hit represented true quality. And since Ms. Riley never produced another top-seller, we can also agree she didn’t offer consistency.

Granted, leaders gain visibility for their message by speaking at a major industry event, international conference, or even a local community affair. But just as with movies, games, and apps, leaders increase their popularity and influence to a tipping point when employees share their opinions of that leader with their colleagues.

the ceo magazine, gig economy,
Marion McGovern, Author, Thriving in the Gig Economy

Clearly the gig economy is here to stay. The trend toward independent work is accelerating as more and more people abandon long term corporate employment for consulting and/or freelance careers. Driven by a desire for flexibility, control over the content, location and impact of their efforts and often a desire to make more money, the ranks of the self employed as a percentage of the US workforce has increased by 50% in the last 10 years from 10% in 2005 to 15.8% in 2015.

the ceo magazine, leadership qualities,
Les Trachtman, CEO, The Trachtman Group

The biggest challenge that a founder or early stage company CEO faces is oddly not survival of his company but how his role needs to change as his company grows and matures. Many leadership transitions (founders being fired) occur when the company’s needs grow faster or in different direction than the CEO’s capabilities. In fact studies have shown that the more quickly a company becomes successful, the more likely it is that its founder gets replaced.  Fast scaling organizations require a chameleon like leader who can acquire new skills as his environment changes.  Those that don’t are replaced. It takes a deep level of self-awareness for a CEO to realize this is occurring and a level of maturity not found in many to do something about it.  Knowing when to continue to climb the leadership value ladder and when to gracefully dismount is the key to avoiding an uncomfortable, abrupt and often destructive CEO transition.

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