Think Like a General Manager

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A member of our newsletter reader community wrote to me the other day. He said he had a strong desire to become a CEO someday and asked for some tips on how to make this dream a reality.

Of all the leadership qualities that you eventually want to acquire, the single most important leadership skill that will lead you to more senior positions is the ability to think like a general manager.

No matter what your current role is you want to start thinking and acting like you are responsible for the success of the entire enterprise.

The CEO is the general manager of the entire business. Their entire mind is bent towards a single purpose…maximizing the organization’s success.

You want to put your mind to this purpose. Every time you are faced with a decision ask yourself what will benefit the entire organization the most. Take that action. Do not do what is best just for your division, department or team. That is not how the best senior executives act.

You will know you have this skill mastered when you make decisions for the benefit of the organization that actually sacrifice some aspect of the part of the business you are responsible for. You make a program cut, a headcount reduction or re-prioritize a departmental project to make time to work on something that has a greater impact on the whole.

This may sound easy to do, but it is not. To really act like a general manager you have to consciously think differently. Remember to always test your decisions by asking if it is really the best thing for the whole organization’s success.

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