How Leaders Think and Operate
Part Two:

This series of articles are provided as real insight into what happens in the C-Suite. So few PR people really get to work in the C-Suite on issues of importance to the entire organization. Most often we are in there briefly to get assignments, do projects, or answer questions. There is no practical school for learning how to be in a C-Suite effectively. This series of articles is designed to give you snapshots of the sort of things you want to learn and know about. I’m happy to discuss anything with anyone reading this document. Always happy to help our colleagues get more access to the top of the organization. If you have questions, please call or email

The main topics in this section of CEO Coaching Notes are: 

The Four Kinds of Information CEO’s Always Need

Each of these sessions provides important insights into how leaders think, how leaders plan, how leaders make decisions, and the information they need to have going forward. There is a lot of it. Always keep this in mind, one of the greatest CEO I’ve ever had the pleasure of knowing and working with had terrific answers for crucial questions. And one of the most interesting answers I ever heard him say was when he was asked, “What is the most problematic part of your job as a CEO?” His answer surprised me but is incredible true and important for you to know. He said, “Being the last to know.” Think about it, knowing what the boss needs and wants to know and being able to provide it is one of the important and central keys to being invited into the C-Suite more frequently than for just planning another party.

    1. Data
      1. A sense of the market
      2. Organizational performance measures
    2. Perception issues
      1. What’s going on
      2. Gossip
      3. Temperament of investors
      4. Emotional state of the organization
      5. Candid assessment of the existing situation
      6. Candid assessment of the people in positions of responsibility to achieve their missions and reach these destinations.
    3. Responses to be executed in real-time
      1. Constantly redefining priorities
    4. What to do next
      1. Next steps
      2. Next events
      3. Next decisions
      4. Looking for barriers

    The Difference Between Leadership and Managing.

    • Managing is about making goals, and meeting the plan. Working inside the box.
    • Leadership is seeing over the horizon, choosing your destinations, then telling, teaching, and showing the rest of us where we are headed.
    • Strategy is how we get to the goals and achieve the vision.

    Management and Leadership

    • Management is…
    About coping with complexity, practices and procedures, control and problem-solving.

    Process and procedure.

    • Leadership is…
    About coping with change, competition, achieving grand visions, motivating, inspiration.

    Telling, showing, storytelling.

    • “Leadership and management are two distinct and complimentary action systems.”

    John P. Kotter What Leaders Really Do

    Leadership Realities

    • Leadership is…

    Most verbal communication

    A performing art

    Communication in the future tense

    About tomorrow and beyond

    Often on territory no one yet owns or occupies

    About strategy


    • Strategy is the key attribute of leaders and leadership.
    • Strategy is the energy that drives business and organizations, guides leadership, and directs the team.
    • Strategy draws people in the same direction.
    • Strategy is a positive, energizing state of mind.
    • Strategy provides the energy and momentum for the current plan of action.
    • Strategy is always positive.
    • Strategy is always about the future.

    Leaders are people of tomorrow. They work outside of the box. Their main job is to see over the horizon, identify new destinations, and then lead us to them.

    Leadership Realities

    • Leadership, when communicated, is the most strategic management value. Without leadership communication, even the most well-oiled machine will produce increasingly less value.
    • Leaders constantly search for ideas and concepts that can be concisely verbalized to drive the organization forward.
    • Leadership communication, of almost any kind and at almost any time, fosters forward movement in the organization.

    Why They Want Top Jobs

    • Enjoy complex problem-solving
    • Directly affect the business
    • Implement personal ideas
    • Help the organization go from good to great
    • Build a company to last
    • Make a difference in the world

    Why Top Jobs are Refused/Avoided*

    • Too little work/life balance
    • Too much focus on quarterly earnings
    • Too much stress
    • Too much public scrutiny
    • Sarbanes-Oxley and other regulations
    • Too many stakeholders demands
    • Excessive media scrutiny

    What Sets Leaders Apart

    1. Focus on the future
    2. Truly see the bigger picture (are strategic)
    3. Develop followers
    4. Attract other leaders
    5. Act in real time

    How Leaders Think

    • It’s process, mostly
    • It’s inspiration, somewhat
    • It’s pragmatic (to survive)
    • It’s strategic (almost always)

    Why CEO’s Get Fired

    • Don’t deliver
    • Too optimistic
    • People problems
    • AWOL
    • Stuck in the mud
    • Communication Incompetence

    How Leaders Navigate

    They know50%
    They estimate25%
    They guess12.5%
    No clue12.5%
    When you are the leader, there is no one to follow. But you have the best view of the future.

    CEO Leadership Communication Function Ratios

    There are seven key leadership function ratios:

    Decision making:                                                    5%
    Articulating:        40%
    Coaching/Teaching/Motivating: 40%
    Forecasting (guessing):      5%
    Admiration Building:       6%
    Reputation Repair:       1%
    Repeating, Re-emphasizing, Re-interpreting:   20%

    The math is correct because the job of a leader is close to 24/7. Anyone who does anything on a 24/7 basis is, by definition, doing substantially more than any peer in a non-leadership position.

    Leadership Communication Impact on Employee & Organizational Performance

    CEO                            5%
    Senior management6%
    Upper management7%
    Middle management8%



    Send Me Your Questions

    A lot of this information I know will be new to you, even if you spend some time in a C-Suite. I am happy to answer any of your questions about what I’m talking about in this section and any of the other articles in this series. The easiest way to is to email me at I’m frequently asked about all of these things so I’m pretty much ready with whatever answers you think you might need.

                Please write, and I will respond promptly. Looking forward to being helpful to you.

                Also important and available for free: