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15 Entrepreneurs Reveal What They Do to Continually Improve as a CEO

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Self-improvement should be part of every CEO’s growth strategy. As you grow your company, so should inner energy be renewed. It’s easy to focus on developing your business while your inner self crashes. Does this mean self-improvement should be treated as work in itself? Yes and No. If you integrate this as part of your schedule, you won’t find it as much work, however, if you don’t give a thought on a continuous basis, you’ll find it a daunting task and fore-go making a better version of yourself.

Below are responses from entrepreneurs and business owners explaining the things they do to continually improve.

#1- Putting myself in my employees’ position

Photo Credit: Nathalie Noisette

The number one way I continue to improve as a CEO, is by putting myself in my employees’ position, literally. From time to time, I will take on assignments, clock in and go through the same steps my employees do. This allows me to get really intimate with some of the concerns they face/ how and where I can make improvements. This has not only allowed me to become a better leader, but I am able to brush up on some of my customer service skills as well.

Thanks to Nathalie Noisette, Credit Conversion!

#2- Listening to feedback

Photo Credit: Simon Chatfield

I’m constantly listening to feedback from our customers and employees in order to grow the company and grow as a person and leader. I identify the needs of my team and our customers and create a plan to make that happen as quickly and efficiently as possible. As a leader, it’s important to remember that it’s my job to ensure the company is running smoothly. I also take the time to engage with my employees on a daily basis, whether it’s for a quick chat or to shoot hoops in the office and let off a little steam. I also spend a lot of time with my family. I think it’s important to have a strong home and personal life separate from work, and finding that balance is key. We also have a lot of fun at work, and I consider my employees my family at the office. One of my mottos is If you’re not having fun, you’re doing it wrong.

Thanks to Simon Chatfield, Optimum Technologies!

#3- Surrounding myself with the right team

Photo Credit: Joseph Genovesi

The most important thing I can do to ensure I’m always improving is to constantly surround myself with the best possible team. I would consider my main strength to be business development. By hiring and working exclusively with A players who all specialize in different skills outside of my wheelhouse, I can focus all my energy on what I do best while not having to worry about micromanaging my team.

Thanks to Joseph Genovesi, Balanced Bridge Funding!

#4- Reading books

Photo Credit: Elizabeth Melendez Fisher

I continually like to improve upon my intellect and best practices and like to read books that other CEO’s have authored. I have applied many tips and strategies from of other business leaders which I have successfully benefitted from. I’m always eager and open to learning because I believe no matter who you are, how smart you are or what position you hold, you can always learn a different tactic that will help you to improve personally and professionally.

Thanks to Elizabeth Melendez Fisher, Selah Freedom!

#5- Learning, doing, and teaching

Photo Credit: Ashley DeLuca

I am always focusing on my big picture strategy then carving my personal development into that portion. This quarter I am focusing my efforts on YouTube so you better believe I am diving in heads first into learning all about the subject matter before I dream of outsourcing it. I want to fully understand it and why it works for my business, so I can help someone else do the same exact thing. It is a circle of a process of learning, doing, and teaching which allows me to fulfill my purpose.

Thanks to Ashley K DeLuca!

#6- Three things

Photo Credit: Paige Arnof-Fenn

To keep my skills relevant and stay on top of my game I do a few things: Attend conferences, talks, workshops for continuing professional development. Read blogs, books and reports from Thought Leaders across industries to gain best practices.  Network with leaders, peers, alumni, etc. to find mentors and advice.

Thanks to Paige Arnof-Fenn, Mavens & Moguls!

#7- Having mentors

Photo Credit: Scott Fish

As the CEO of a marketing agency, I am always looking for new ways to improve managing my business. But I’m not going to talk about that… I coach a high school racquetball team. As the “CEO” of a team, I have to constantly be growing in my knowledge to lead a team and manage a team of amp’d up high schoolers! Looking at my mentors that I utilize, I find that previous coaches, professional athlete coaches and successful players tend to be ones that can share ideas with how to constantly be improving in my own coaching technique. Mentors are important, whether you’re the CEO of a racquetball team, or your company. Find someone that you trust and that you can relate to, look for someone that can be seen as a peer, and seek the advice of someone that has been where you want to be.

Thanks to Scott Fish, 32° digital marketing!

#8- Acknowledging failures

Photo Credit: Shaan Patel

Failure is the best entrepreneur course. I think that the best thing I can do to always work on becoming better is acknowledging my failures with relish. Why? Because not only does it let me approach understanding them with a clear, dispassionate mind, but it also gives me the enthusiasm to overcome them. Sometimes that means rethinking an approach that still has merit; other times, I have to take the nerve-wracking but exciting course of throwing everything I thought would work out and start with a blank slate. While this can be stressful, I at least already know one method that doesn’t work, so why not try something new? It’s just like in sports; the best players don’t become that way solely on talent. They become the best by embracing every loss as fully as their wins, and finding what needs to be refined in themselves to reach ever greater potential.

Thanks to Shaan Patel, Prep Expert!

#9- Self-checks and taking breaks

Working from home, can make you very disorganized and unproductive, so it’s a good habit to make a schedule and follow it. Overworking is also a thing, and again after a while you become unproductive, so scheduling 15 minute breaks every 1h 30m or 2h is extremely helpful. I believe a CEO has to constantly update his/her knowledge in the niche he/she is, as we live in very dynamic times. For example the online market changes extremely fast and if you want to beat the competition, you have to stay up to date. Being a CEO and working with various sub-contractors/freelancers can be a challenge, especially when the money start flowing in. I believe a CEO should always do a self-check in the way he/she treats people and make sure he/she is still the same person who started the business. Arrogance and ignorance benefit nobody, so it’s important to get those out of the way. Missing on a valuable feedback or suggestion, may mean missing on good opportunities.

Thanks to Mitko Atanassov, Gambipedia!

#10-Attend Training Programs

Photo Credit: Zondra Wilson

The biggest excuse I hear from many CEOs for not attending an enrichment seminar is that they don’t have time. From my experience, the CEOs who do attend are typically the ones who are already better than most. Because of this, they know how to make time to improve their skills. If you think you don’t have time to get better at your job, then you are not doing your job properly.

Zondra Wilson, Blu Skin Care, LLC!

#11-Journaling

Photo Credit: Bret Bonnet

One of the ways I continually try to improve as a CEO is through journaling. I journal like a fiend. Every night before going to bed, I jot down my day’s joys and concerns. Nothing is off limits. Shortly after I wake up in the morning, I grab my journal and review what I wrote the night before. I allow myself a brief moment to celebrate the previous day’s joys before reading the concerns. I try to make sure I either make right my earlier wrongs or take stock and try my best to not repeat the same mistakes twice. It’s a quick and simple system that keeps me honest and allows me to be the best me I can be. The biggest challenge is remembering to journal, but by placing it next to the alarm clock each day, it’s hard to miss!

Thanks to Bret Bonnet, Quality Logo Products!

#12- Three things

Photo Credit: Elizabeth David-Dembrowsky

a) Requiring my team to submit weekly reflections which give me an opportunity to see where they find they are struggling so I can in close to real-time attempt to find solutions b) constantly seeking and maintaining relationships with mentors. I intentionally have several – one has a work/life balance I admire, another the respects of her peers, a third the financial security at retirement I want for myself, and a fourth the financial status I want in ten years. By maintaining relationships with these mentors some in my field and others far from it – I try to learn from their successes and failures without expecting any one of them alone to have all the answers for me. c) Blinkitst – I use the app on my cell phone and do a lot of traveling and am a constantly trying to challenge myself to learn about how to be a better and more efficient leader so I find the combo of taking books on leadership, business, and other important topics to me and distilling them into quickly, digestible blinks and the option to have them on audio for times when I am hands free (like at the manicurist)

Thanks to Elizabeth David-Dembrowsky, Good Counsel Services, Inc.!

#13- Staying updated on current trends

Photo Credit: Susan Fitzell

My business focuses on helping clients develop a growth mindset and culture of learning. Ensuring that I stay up to date on current trends and research is key not only to my success, but the success of my clients. Consequently, I need to find ways to continually educate myself and that is not always easy given that I’m a solopreneur and every minute counts. When I bought my cell phone, I made sure that I had the ability to upgrade my memory with a SD card. I purchase the conference recordings of any conferences that I attend and load those recordings to the SD card so that I can listen to the conference recordings in the car, or on the plane where I can’t count on having an internet connection. GoGoAir isn’t always available, nor does it work consistently. In addition, I set up a one-step screen on my cell phone to safely access Ted talks and podcasts to listen to when I’m traveling and can stream. Being proactive and setting these learning opportunities up ahead of time, allows me the option of learning, anytime I can “listen while I travel, pack, or stretch.”

Thanks to Susan Fitzell

#14- Learning organization concept

Photo Credit: Adam Stern

In life, as in business, you have to make mistakes. I don’t believe there’s a real way to jump over the mistake part. The things I did poorly in my ‘20s as a manager and the things that I did poorly in my ‘30s as an owner led me to my present-day self, where learning from my own mistakes is almost an avocation. I’ve tried to remain open to new ways of doing things, and looking back, it’s helped me build a learning business. That’s a tough thing to do – to build a company structured to learn from contacts with stakeholders, customers, vendors, employees and other owners. I’ve also learned that there’s an in-between that I needed to find; analyzing everything to death means never making a decision. When I found myself making decisions quickly based on limited information, I recognized that I needed to have at my disposal a very strong decision-making paradigm – that’s where the learning organization concept comes in. Above all, I learned that when I’ve failed, that doesn’t mean I’m a failure. It means that I hadn’t yet picked the right idea or executed it in the best way possible. But success was still within reach.

Thanks to Adam Stern, Infinitely Virtual!

#15- Purchasing real books

Photo Credit: Richard Pummell

It’s impossible to overstate the value of constantly feeding the brain with great and varied content on a regular basis. This can be done by curating a list of books on various topics that provide further insight into current issues.Workonnex touches on many aspects of employee engagement and well-being, and so I cast the net far and wide to find material that is going to be both interesting in content and challenging as to how it can be of use to my business or my clients. When I experience a business situation that warrants receiving counsel from others, I also like to find a book or two on that topic to gain deeper understanding. Recently, I’ve also returned to purchasing real books. Digital content provided too many opportunities to either link out to other sources, or channeled interruptions via email. It is fulfilling to spend time in an actual book, or listen to an audio book while traveling, and contemplate how the new knowledge can drive my business forward. It also helps further relationships when you circle back to someone with whom you had an initial conversation on the topic and thank them for starting your journey on additional research.

Thanks to Richard Pummell, Workonnex!

What do you do to continually improve as a CEO? Tell us in the comments below. Don’t forget to join our #IamCEO Community

About Mercy - CBNation

This is a post from a CEO Blog Nation writer. CEO Blog Nation is a community of blogs for entrepreneurs and business owners. Started in much the same way as most small businesses, CEO Blog Nation captures the essence of entrepreneurship by allowing entrepreneurs and business owners to have a voice. CEO Blog Nation provides news, information, events and even startup business tips for entrepreneurs, startups and business owners to succeed.

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