How to be CEO of your own career (and life) - SmartBrief

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How to be CEO of your own career (and life)

4 min read


Perhaps you aspire to the corner office, or you want to develop leadership skills that will help advance your career. You can begin to learn what it takes to be CEO by becoming CEO of your own career.

As CEO, here are six responsibilities you must oversee as you lead the enterprise (the business of advancing your career).

1. Focus on your brand

Yes, you are a brand, whether you realize it or not. To act like a brand, consider the following questions:

  • What is it that you could do better than anyone else on the planet? (borrowed and paraphrased from Jim Collins’ book “Good to Great”)
  • What is your purpose?
  • What are you values?
  • What gift do you provide to your colleagues (how do help them achieve their goals)?

As CEO, you will want to understand these elements of your brand and focus your look, your message and your actions to reinforce them.

2. Determine your goals

Good CEOs don’t operate with a vague set of goals hoping for opportunity to knock. They know that the right opportunities are more likely to appear when you’re on a path to a defined set of goal.

To explore your goals, complete this statement: “It would be great if (what)…”

Then ask, “What else would be great?”

Try to generate 10 to 20 potential goal statements. Think big! Then for each statement, ask, “Why would that be great?”

In reviewing your answers, you’ll see all your aspirations and the reasons why you want to achieve them. Pick the three to five most-compelling statements as your primary goals; then, determine what success looks like and how you will measure your progress.

3. Recruit a board of directors

Who will hold you accountable for achieving your goals? Who might help you solve problems and open doors? Who will provide needed encouragement? Your board of directors might include a spouse, significant other or family members. It might be made up of industry experts and professionals from other industries. You might enlist a mentor or group of colleagues.

Make a plan to meet with your board on a regular basis to report progress, celebrate successes and work to overcome new obstacles that might have appeared since you last met.

4. Develop your strategies

Take a look at your primary goals and ask the question, “What’s stopping me from achieving this?” Now answer this question in the form of a question. For example, if your ability to reach a goal depends on your presentation skills and you are a frightened presenter, ask, “How can I become a better presenter?”

Then ask that same question in as many ways as possible: “How can I learn how to present?” “How can I get practice presenting?” “How can I get over my fear of presenting?” etc.

As you generate these problem statements, ideas for solving them begin to bubble up. Pick the most important statements to address and consider them your strategies for achieving each goal. Then generate the ideas to solve those problem statements.

5. Hold yourself accountable

Take all of your ideas and assign a near-term, midterm or long-term date for each. Share this action plan with your board of directors so they can support your progress.

6. Keep your eye on the prize

As CEO, you need to focus on changing conditions as they may affect your long-term goals. Work with your board of directors to adapt short-term tactics to overcome new challenges and take advantage of new opportunities as they come.

As the CEO of your own career, you will gain invaluable leadership experience. Along the way, you will become more proactive in your personal advancement.

And, for those of you who are already CEOs, you might want to encourage others in your organization to go through this exercise. This type of career development leads to a deeper engagement, which ultimately only makes your business stronger.

Dan Greenberger is a facilitator/trainer who helps organizations innovate and grow by applying creative principles to strategy, branding and other business activities. Dan lives in Highland Park, IL. You can contact Greenberger at [email protected]. He blogs at

Yosef Meged is a business and personal coach working with individuals, families and businesses. Meged lives in the United States and Israel. You can reach him at [email protected]. He blogs at

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