What the CEO/Business Owner Believes Determines Results

One of the most interesting parts of my business journey, particularly the last 10 years, has been making the direct correlation between a top dog’s belief system and organizational results.


The following are true stories, each an omen for misguided, destructive belief systems:

  • It’s their fault. A software company, struggling for survival, turned over 18 of its 19 employees in a 12-month period, something the CEO and founder were proud of.  “If I could just find the right people, we would dominate the marketplace!”  Consultants, slick marketing initiatives, and more salespeople have not been able to right the ship.
  • Spreadsheets as crystal balls. An investor group that purchased a granite fabrication firm, then installing themselves as the leadership team, lived as hermits within their respective offices, pouring over numbers as if the past would predict the future.  When their five-year plan to harvest the company for substantial profit failed – the plan was in year nine when the investors finally cried uncle and sold for a loss – the experience was written off as “That industry was an anomaly.  Let’s move on.”
  • Truancy: A tale of two CEOs. One is on the road constantly, meeting with top prospects and customers, rarely taking a vacation – in addition to leading the organization day-to-day.  He never misses the weekly leadership team meeting, guiding the enterprise expertly.  His business is up 250% the past three years.  The other CEO is AWOL much of the time, enjoying the “lifestyle” business she created.  Her revenue and profitability are down substantially, the patient on life support.  Apparently, the “present” leader wins.
  • “Let’s see what sticks.” A sizable commercial insurer had been unable to grow the business for years, stuck in a rut, or more aptly, quicksand.  The CEO’s mantra, “Hire as many producers as possible, and let’s see who has the stones to survive,” was costing the firm tens of thousands of dollars per year.  Additionally, the lead dog had never performed analytics, where 98% of the firm’s customers were split evenly between just two segments.  As poorly trained producers consistently delivered new business outside of the two primary segments, waste and rework costs multiplied, severely impacting profitability.

With those examples as cautionary tales, here are five important beliefs – each a driver of profitable revenue growth (PRG) – necessary to realize insane customer demand, and potentially a monopoly: 

  1.   Recognize your company’s identity crisis, and how it’s killing PRG.  While knowing “who you are” can greatly increase demand creation, it is equally important to know who you are not. There’s a third option, too: Cease the masquerade, the one where the organization impersonates a company offering high value.
  1. Embrace what people really “buy” in the third millennium.  Goodbye, features, and benefits (and salespeople).  Hello, key experiential moments, culture, community and story! The key question the CEO needs to answer: Why would anyone care?
  1. Organizational A.D.D. siphons profits.  Flavor of the month strategies.  Customer churn. Leadership churn.  Lack of focus on anything. So many meetings. Each of these diseases can be solved by understanding the concept of how systemic variation destroys companies from the inside out.
  1. Purpose ignites and invigorates the P&L.  “Wait a minute Sean, I have no interest in that touchy-feely stuff. That’s for kooks.”OK then, enjoy apathy, lethargy, turnover and a whole host of other maladies that drive poor business results.  Or you could choose to cozy up to a higher calling – a true north, organizational cause – and let that be the operational business plan.  (NOTE:  Purpose is not social responsibility)
  1. PRG responsibility rests with the CEO/business owner.  Demand creation, and therefore PRG, is a CEO/business owner responsibility, not the sales organization’s … or the COO’s VP of Sales or Marketing, or Chief Revenue/Growth Officer’s


Interested in more?  Further explanation of these (and more) beliefs, and how to leverage them to achieve strong demand, can be found within Clean Slate in Chapter 1, Anemia: 11 Causes of Poor Profitable Revenue Growth.


Coming soon!

Why leadership should trash their current business model, reject popular sales advice, operate like a startup, and leverage the new rules for prosperity to achieve explosive profitable revenue growth (PRG).