Six Business Leadership Questions Every CEO Should Ask

I listened to an old Andy Stanley Leadership Podcast and came across a brilliant session on six questions every CEO must ask.  Here is my summary.
Finding the right metrics to guide you about the health of your organizations. Choose the right three of four and watch them attentively.
Good decisions need good input, and great leaders are decisive but inclusive in their decision processes.
I find it interesting that when companies grow and the 2nd level of leadership is upgraded, the CEO often feels lost and sometimes wants to contribute too much. Resist that feeling and stay focused on what you do well, while allowing your people to achieve their goals without your assistance.
The book TopGrading tells us that this is a constant challenge. We as leaders need to help our people grow, but if they are not capable or don’t want to grow, we must transition them with dignity.
“We have always done it this way and it works, OK?” is a way of thinking dangerous to any business. Innovation is what keeps you a leader in your industry versus being an average player.
This drags you out of your comfort zone. I have many great mentors who have taught me well. When facing a big decision, I always ask myself, “is that the right decision, or the easy one?” The tough road is often the best one to travel.
Weekly Wisdom by Jerry Rollins,  CEO/Chairman of Sage Executive Group

Sage Insights into Success of Stone Brewing Co.

Stone Brewing Co. has grown into the nation’s 10th-largest craft brewer by tapping into its customers’ thirst for freedom, one of six key emotional measures of values-driven marketing, Zenzi Communications CEO Sarah Hardwick told a group of San Diego business executives.
Hardwick described the six markers – freedom, purpose, tradition, pleasure, security and prestige – in a presentation hosted by Sage Executive Group, an peer advisory organization that bring together CEOs and top executives from across the region to learn and share ideas in shaping new directions for their companies.
Some of the most successful firms in establishing a brand identity, such as Chipolte and Nike, “make an emotional connection” by understanding and catering not only to the product needs of customers, but also to what is important to them – and the people they talk to personally and through social media. “”A brand is not what a company says it is. It’s what people tell each other that it is,”,” said Hardwick, who founded Encinitas-based Zenzi Communications in 2002.
Stone, which started out as a small craft brewery in San Marcos in 1996 producing about 2,100 barrels, has expanded to a major brewing facility combined with a specialty restaurant and extensive gardens in Escondido. Produced exceeded 213,000 barrels in 2013. It is now planning new brewing operations in the southern United States and in Berlin, the beer heartland of Germany. For Stone, “attitude is everything,” Hardwick said. It has built “an engaged and passionate audience” by fostering “a point of view” that appeals to independent-minded freedom seekers and is manifested in the name of one of its signature beers, Arrogant Bastard Ale.
The company, founded by brewing icons Greg Koch Steve Wagner, has put a premium on beer as a “passionate experience” and fosters its values in its own employees, who now number about 900. “Their employees are the most passionate representation of the brand,” Hardwick said, a fundamental reason that Stone trusts and builds its own identity.
In summary, Hardwick said “values are the missing link in making deeper connections” as companies seek to engage a diverse and often fragmented customer base.
Hardwick gave her talk at the quarterly networking event on Aug. 14 held by Sage Executive Group at Mintz Levin law firm in San Diego. It was hosted by SkyRiver IT.
Commentary on leadership from Stone CEO Greg Koch and on the Sage experience from Stone President Steve Wagner is available on Sage’s YouTube channel.
Chuck Buxton

Executives: Don't Become a Slave to Cannot

“Whatever you want in life, other people are going to want it too. Believe in yourself enough to accept the idea that you have an equal right to it.” Diane Sawyer
I associate with amazing people who are accomplishing great things. The people around them and the communities they live in consider them to be extremely successful and also great role models. What causes me to chuckle is that when we discuss their journey to reach these significant goals, the only thing that held them back from accomplishing them sooner was their own self-limiting beliefs. This struck me as odd. So I started questioning everyone I met to determine what is holding them back from moving forward towards a goal or dream. In the final analysis even the most competent and confident people allow themselves to become slaves to what they believe they cannot do and have a list of reasons why they can’t do it versus the reasons why they can.
So the exercise or take away today is to write down a dream or challenging goal that has been on your list for years, discuss it within your trusted circle, and then start moving towards making it happen.
Weekly Wisdom by Jerry Rollins, CEO and Chairman of Sage Executive Group

Good Reasons for Business Executives to Join Sage

Brian Yui,  co-founder of Sage Executive Group and a serial entrepreneur himself in the travel and real estate fields, explains why chief executive officers and San Diego entrepreneurs in leadership positions can benefit from frank discussions with their peers about the thorniest of problems.
“The main reason is that a lot of the issues they may encounter would be inappropriate to discuss with subordinates,” Yui says. “Because they’re at the top, there’s no one else at the company who has the same experience and needs as the CEO. For this reason, other CEOs fill the gap that employees at the office and friends don’t. Peers who are in similar positions in other industries can guide other CEOs.”
And he describes how Sage is tailored to time-driven executives from C-level to CEO.
“The most important thing is that CEOs have very limited time. It’s a good idea to research which peer advisory group is best suited for your goals and personality, as well as how much time each group requires for your participation. Some of the bigger ones have a required social component, such as annual retreats and social functions; other groups are just business. Some groups meet for 8 hours a month, some are for 5 hours a month. Also, some of the peer organizations, like ours, provide peer advisory boards for their C-suite executives. We have one for sales and marketing, one for COOs and CFOs, and one for Business Development. They get together once a month, at a much reduced price, to help each other grow in their C-level executive positions.”