The second post in my “Matters Series” is focused on Behavior Matters! In the previous kick-off post, we discussed how Words Matter.

As CEO, and as outlined in the “Words Matter” post, your actions are closely scrutinized and emulated by employees and leadership team members. Furthermore, your actions and behavior are a peek into your corporate culture. There is a line you should not cross. It is clear that as CEO, your background + your philosophies + your leadership styles create your corporate culture. Let’s explore some real situations that have happened behind the scenes and you can add those you have experienced. If you have a strong set of core values and principles (your philosophies), you should not experience this next list:

  • Calling out and mistreating an employee in front of others
  • Yelling at an employee (under any conditions)
  • Talking behind people’s back to others
  • Taking an employee to lunch, making inappropriate advances or threats
  • Over-spending budget money from your business functions, with or without their knowledge
  • Overruling decisions of your senior leadership team, with or without their knowledge
  • Operating the company by the seat of your pants, without accountability (ready-fire-aim) or planning
  • Asking for daily reports from your senior staff, this is micromanagement and is not appreciated
  • Lying to your employees, many of which may know the truth, as word travels fast
  • Bullying of employees, with verbal threats, unreasonable tasks or assignments, bad language, or similar

This is a short list above of some of the more popular behavior that happens every day in many companies and businesses of all sizes. Boards of Directors and investors are on the lookout for CEOs we now have several high-profile examples of Elizabeth Holmes from Theranos, Adam Neumann of WeWork, and Travis Kalanick of Uber. My next book will delve deeply into this list and many more examples of mistakes CEOs and leaders make, but this gives you a snapshot. Remember, we are in “the Great Resignation” period, with record numbers of people quitting their jobs every month! People leave for greener pastures for many reasons including their “boss” and return to office policies.

Let’s look at some of the things you should do as opposed to these negative behaviors above:

  • Never underestimate the value and impact of company culture – lead the charge, live your core values and principles and share conversations with your leadership teams and employees
  • Share company performance data – good or bad, as employees want to help and be part of the solution – use a dashboard if you can to help identify progress; you will be rewarded with higher engagement and happier employees who buy into your goals
  • Recognize employees for a job well done – look for small wins
  • Execute from the data, not from the gut – have a strong decision process that is based on data, reality, and team input
  • Ensure all new employees have an onboarding plan: it should be detailed and customized for the role they are hired to excel at and contribute to (See my example onboarding plan post here)
  • Have some fun events that may help other charity groups, such as Make-a-Wish”, Habitat for Humanity, Salvation Army, or another group (steer clear of religious groups, political groups, and any controversial groups). I share in my book, “The Rookie CEO, You Can’t Make This Stuff Up!, some events that we held at various companies such as “Kiss-a-pig”, Pajama Day, and offsite get-togethers, and more. Employees love these fun events and it fuels engagement.


These examples of both negative and positive behavior may be obvious, but I have seen them regularly. As I coach and advise CEOs and leaders, I see these examples play out in real-time and I have spoken to some of the employees who are victims. I am not a therapist or counselor and make my suggestions based on what has worked for me and the people I have advised or coached.

My suggestions for CEOs, business owners, and leaders are as follows:

  1. If you see yourself in the top section above, the negative behaviors, you need to find a stress buster. First, it’s time to visit your culture, talk to your trusted team and consider a trusted advisor, and see how others see you. You need to listen to people and learn and ask questions along the way, but stop doing these negative behaviors now. Catch yourself, walk away and breathe deeply and then ask yourself a series of questions. You need to understand why you are acting out these negative behaviors.
    • For example, (1) why am I yelling at my employee? (2) what do I expect the employee to do? (3) How can I better handle this type of situation? (4) then sit down 1-on-1 with the employee you are challenged leading and find out what they are thinking and what did they do and why that set you off (5) start a personal journal to log what happened and what you did to resolve the conflict (6) find patterns and trends that you can manage in a different positive way.
  2. Your goal is to be kind, professional, listen, learn, ask questions, and be self-aware of every situation – both negative and positive. By journaling all of these feelings, you will begin to see the patterns that flip your switch and take action to resolve them.
  3. Your efforts to take control over bad behaviors will take time, resolve, and self-awareness. As you become more aware and execute on your resolve, your mental health will improve, your stress will be reduced, and you will improve your success with your team, employees, investors, and Board of Directors.
  4. Look for opportunities to give new challenging and exciting projects to your newer and younger generation employees. They are looking for these opportunities! It might be a good opportunity to mix generations across a tiger team to share experiences and build camaraderie.

In Summary

Every CEO, business owner, and leader makes mistakes. Especially when they are rookies, and every leader and CEO is a rookie once! The most important thing is to learn from mistakes, understand them and how they happened, and create new processes, and mindsets to not repeat these mistakes. Be self-aware.

Please share this on social media if you found this post helpful! Keep your eyes open for that next post.

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