How to Act Like the CEO When You’re Not

Oct 11, 2021

A coaching client said, “I need to think of myself as the mini-ceo.” He and his team manage a $2 billion year over year growth plan.

You don’t want to walk around like the CEO when you aren’t, but the term ‘mini’ doesn’t float my boat.

Stop acting like a blind mouse in a room full of cats.

A mouse hides its face in its hands

How to act like the CEO when you’re not:

#1. Own your realm.

Taking ownership is giving yourself permission to make decisions. It doesn’t mean doing everything by yourself. It doesn’t mean acting without feedback and input.

Owners don’t expect others to make them whole.

Ownership is moving from paralyzing grievance to forward-facing motion.

#2. Set your goals.

Be a proactive goal-setter, even if you answer to a boss.

Don’t wait for instruction. Anticipate what’s next. Explain what you intend to do. (See, Passive to Active.)

#3. Don’t threaten higher-ups.

Embrace the attitude of a CEO, but avoid overstep.

You lose opportunity when you threaten the boss.

Be transparent.

  1. Don’t play manipulative politics.

  2. Provide frequent updates. The appearance of secrecy creates suspicion.

#4. Serve six constituencies.

The six constituencies a CEO serves:

  1. Employees.

  2. Customers.

  3. Vendors and suppliers.

  4. Community at large.

  5. Stockholders and investors.

  6. Yourself. Tip: Never disadvantage others for personal advantage.

#5. Think big, act small.*


  1. Scan the terrain for opportunity.

  2. Consider medium and long-term impact.

  3. Get stuff done today.

#6. Spend time with medium-performers.

You can’t neglect poor performers, but don’t let squeaky wheels squander your time. Spend most of your time with medium performers.

  1. Give opportunities to high performers.

  2. Train and coach medium performers.

#7. Lead yourself.

Top leaders don’t burn the candle at both ends. (HBR/The Mind of the Leader)

Manage your time and energy.

Top leaders…

  1. Get adequate sleep.

  2. Exercise.

  3. Eat a healthy diet.

What concerns you about acting like the CEO when you’re not?

What does acting like the CEO look like to you?

*”Think Big, Act Small,” is the title of a book by Jason Jennings.

By Dan Rockford