Converting CEO Vision into Action

Many CEOs that I have talked to have told me that one of their biggest problems is getting their team [...]

November 28 2007 by Bob Donnelly


Many CEOs that I have talked to have told me that one of their biggest problems is getting their team to understand and implement their vision for the future of their business. 

If you are experiencing this same problem you need a catalyst to help you clarify your vision for your team. The natural question is “who are these change agents”? 

They can take many forms all the way from strategic planners to a wide variety of HR consultants. However, there are also firms that just deal with this specific issue. These experts are aware of these patterns of disharmony that transcend industry specifics and they have developed proven templates that can be applied to any management team to get them back together and focused on the same goals. 

These companies are usually classified as leadership solutions implementers. They work with management teams to achieve clarity of vision with their CEOs. Their task is both educational as well as strategic. 

Many CEOs are so focused on growing sales, and improving operations and future profitability that they do not take the time to practice good management principles. As a result they overlook basic personality theory and treat all of the members of their management team as if they are exactly like them and totally comprehend everything that they say and believe.  

Since we are all different personalities, if the CEO doesn’t take the time to explain where the company is now, where he believes it can be in the future and how he plans to get it there to each personality on his team in a way that they each can understand it they will not be able to participate in making it happen. Without this kind of personalized communications each manager’s “perception” of the vision the CEO has for the business by nature will be different. 

Once this happens each manager consciously or unconsciously starts to work on their own agenda which is not aligned with the vision of the CEO. Now we have a situation where an outside expert on team building can be invaluable. 

What these leadership solutions firms do is work with the CEO and each member of his or her team initially to improve this breakdown in communications. Once this is accomplished they measure if communications have actually improved by using a variety of measurement techniques.  

Once clearer communications have been accomplished their next task is to work with the CEO to develop a menu of incentives tied to various cultural, financial performance and equity related performance goals for each member of the team. Each of there goals is tied into achieving the CEO’s vision. The ultimate incentive has to be a sense of inclusion and participation for each manager in being part of a winning team. It’s when an emotional bond has been established between the team and the brand/company vision.   

To insure that the plan is working they also maintain an ongoing liaison with the CEO and the team to measure business outcomes. Without their continued involvement it is very easy for the team to return to their old ways. 

In talking with James Celentano, CEO and Managing Partner of the Hudson Gain Corporation, one such leadership solutions firm, he shared the following types of successful outcomes that his firm has achieved.  

Sales Force Effectiveness – Increase Topline Growth 

The Challenge: The CEO of a consumer services firm was struggling to reach sales growth targets that his investors and Board had set. He identified high employee turnover in the sales force as the major problem. Half of the new sales hires were gone within the first 12 months. 

The Solution: Hudson Gain took the CEO and his team through what they call a “discovery process”. They used behavioral interviews and an online Executive Chemistry tool to identify behavior patterns that led to sales success. Based on these findings they identified for the CEO the ideal profile of a successful salesman that was then used for recruiting replacements. The benefit for the company was a dramatic decrease in turnover and an immediate increase is sales. In combination with a training program that reinforced the most effective selling techniques for their unique service sales exceeded the previously established sales targets. 

I’m Leading – Are they following? 

The Challenge: The CEO of an educational publisher was concerned that his team was not in sync with his vision as actions by his managers were obviously not reflective of his vision. 

The Solution: Hudson Gain developed a questionnaire for each direct report to the CEO to determine their perception of the roles of CEO, President and COO in executing the corporate mission and strategy, and how each of these senior managers were communicating the vision for the future of the business to their subordinates. The result was that everyone was not on the same page. Senior management working with Hudson Gain was able to refocus on the CEO’s vision and strategy, and improved communications quickly cascaded throughout the organization. 

As these few examples illustrate it is often very helpful to engage a change agent like James Celantano’s group to quickly get the team refocused on the CEO’s vision and improve overall communications, which is almost always at the root cause of disharmony in any group dynamics. 

Is your team in sync with your vision? If not, do you have a way to get everybody on the same page? Maybe you need to reach out to find your own catalyst. 

Let me know if we can establish a dialogue on this issue if it has become a problem for you.

 An entrepreneur himself, Bob has spent most of his career involved with starting, growing and selling businesses. Having held managerial positions with IBM, Pfizer and Exxon, he draws upon extensive organizational experience with large and small companies in advising CEOs of growing firms. He is available online to answer questions from Chief Executive readers, as well as offer workshops, tips, books to read and a monthly online column about common issues facing CEOs of growing firms. Bob has been featured in USA TODAY for his work with Inc 500 firms and is associated with NYU’s Stern Graduate School of business in their Center for Entrepreneurial Studies where he is a Venture Mentor, Marketing Strategist and Business Plan Reviewer.


He is the author of GUIDEBOOK TO PLANNING – A Common Sense Approach to Building Business Plans for Growing Firms, which has recently been reprinted. He is a past contributor to Chief Executive and one of his articles was featured in The Best of Chief Executive.  Email Bob at: rmdonnelly@chiefexecutive.net