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Do you ever hit the wall because you don’t know something but you must address this “something” immediately? No one, even the CEO, knows it all! Some CEOs may think they know it all, but my experience and many of my former colleagues agree that with the breadth of being a CEO, it’s nearly impossible to know every detail of every possible scenario.

The goal of this post is to provide CEOs with a different perspective than they may utilize today to lead when they hit this wall of not being fluent in the issues at hand. I call this “The 7 commandments of CEO Learning”.

Set the Stage

To set the stage, rookie CEOs and possibly more experienced CEOs don’t know what they don’t know if they have never seen this new situation. It happens more frequently than most CEOs will admit, at least publicly. The most critical skill the CEO needs to have is the ability to recognize his/her need to learn immediately. The CEO can assemble a team of subject matter experts, or a team of trusted leadership team members, utilize an external coach or use a long-term trusted partner or college roommate. The immediate task: identity the “what”, break it down into understandable chunks, pencil in “when” the solution is needed, and finally identify and execute on the “how” to attack the situation.

Although I have my opinions on how CEOs might take on “learning”, I realize that there are coaching classes globally that teach leaders and CEOs lifetime learning techniques. I don’t personally know anyone who has taken these courses, so I will share my 7 Commandments of CEO Learning.

Top 7 List: 7 Commandments of CEO Learning

  1. Learn to listen and ask the right questions.
  2. Learn that behavior matters as everyone is watching and listening to your every word. You, the CEO and leader are powerful!
  3. Learn to focus on priorities and communicate clearly through clarity and storytelling.
  4. Learn to build the best team you possibly can. It is likely, you don’t know all functional business areas in as much detail as the leaders of those teams know.
  5. Learn what makes your workplace culture exceptional.
  6. Learn to have a thick skin as you will need it to handle the feedback from comments on Glassdoor and other web sites, the Board of Directors, and your closest allies.
  7. Learn what resources are available to help you and when to utilize them. They include coaches, consultants, books, CEO peer groups, industry peers, and your professional influencers.

I have no doubt many readers can add to this list, but I am focusing on the MVC or Minimum Viable CEO commandments to lead, solve problems they may not have experience or breadth to handle, and suggest how to proceed when their back is against the wall.


We all hit the wall at some point, and ideally we each have a process we follow to proceed. Lately, there are many articles and podcasts about imposter syndrome which can occur when we hit the wall. I suggest to create your own methodology to get past difficult problems and this post provides a “7 Commandment for Learning” framework for CEOs and leaders to learn how to execute on this process. I hope it helps some of you!

The Rookie CEO, You Can’t Make This Stuff Up!

I invite you to read my book to learn more about how new CEOs will lead, how they can succeed, regardless of their backgrounds, philosophies, and leadership styles and how these affect the culture they will create as a new CEO or leader.

There are take-aways at the end of each chapter that help aspiring CEOs or new CEOs to learn from. You will learn more in my book, a leading “short read” in multiple business categories on Amazon. Available in eBook, Paperback, Hardcover and soon the to be released audiobook.

Thank you for visiting the CEO Insights blog, and I look forward to your return!