Hargrove's 30 Laws for Being a Great CEO


These 30 LAWS are based on my observations as a CEO Consiglieri to the Fortune 500 and a long-term study of the greatest CEOs and Entrepreneurs of all time.

Intro: I make my way in the world as a CEO Consiglieri, and am fascinated and intrigued by why one person becomes a great CEO and builds a great company and another doesn’t. Peter Drucker said the CEO is a specific and unique role and it is one that nothing can prepare you for. Not being an MBA. Not being a C-suite member. Not even being President of a big division.

He asked, “What is the job of the CEO that only he can do?” regardless of gender. He believed that the CEO was the only person the outside world held accountable for creating a company that matters, for managing the business in its completeness, and for its financial performance. With this as a foundation, I have created a list of 30 Laws that will help you be a great CEO and build a great company in a world, less governed by industry orthodoxy, than the whole phenomenon of disruption.

The laws are based on the idea of the CEO as entrepreneur, someone who disrupts the market, rather than the CEO as steward who polishes up grandma’s china. They apply whether you are running a Fortune 500, a venture-funded high-tech start up, or a family owned business.

Robert Hargrove’s 30 LAWS for Being a Great CEO & Building a Great Company

  1. “The best advice I ever got: Find a coach!” Eric Schmidt on becoming CEO of Google.
  1. The greatest CEOs of all time had WILL and HUMILITY, most said they weren’t qualified for the job when asked.
  1. You build a great company, not just with an inspiring vision, but empowering values.Put patients before profits. -George T. Merck.
  1. Strength of character counts more than a weakness in a competency and makes you a role model.
  1. Act like you are on stage 24/7, because you are. To maintain sanity, get off stage as often as possible.
  1. To accelerate speed of trust with your board: Be smart. Do the right thing. Always deliver.
  1. Investors buy you first, your story second.Who you are speaks so loudly it drowns out what you are saying.
  1. Manager for the next quarter century, not just for the next quarter.
  1. Relevancy rules! Keep asking yourself: Are we are company that matters… or doesn’t matter? If we disappeared who would care?
  1. Get outside the building! Spot trends. Talk to customers. Explore 10x technologies.
  1. The best CEOs and Entrepreneurs dream bigger, re-imagine the everyday, disrupt the status quo.
  1. To grow exponentially, a company needs transformational events, not just everyday transactionsBig M&A deals, iPhones, self-driving cars.
  1. In most cases, there is no entrepreneur in a garage, there is no light bulb moment. There is a team of great people, creative collaboration, moving ideas around.
  1. Do you have someone on your team who is a: 1) Capitalist, 2) Humanist, 3) Technologist? How good are you at moving ideas around?
  1. Honestly, ask yourself: How many ‘A’ players or exceptional people or unique abilities do I really have on my team? 1? 2? 3?
  1. You and your team need to develop the courage to take on the impossible. Leadership is making something happen that wasn’t supposed to happen.
  1. Strategy starts with purpose.Open the highways to all mankind. Change the world with the personal computer. 24-hour delivery.
  1. Stop seeing strategy through the lens of industry orthodoxy. Start seeing strategy through the lens of the whole phenomenon of disruption.
  1. Build a dual track strategy—Strengthen and extend your core business, seize white space in market adjacencies & create new businesses.
  1. Worship at the altar of innovation, not just incremental improvement.
  1. Get the customer’s job to be done. Build an offering that nails it! Business models, products, and services.
  1. Stay personally and directly involved in moving a game-changing idea to a finished product. It’s not supposed to be easy.
  1. Build an organization that is a total interlocking system of value creation and delivery mechanism for a great customer experiences.
  1. In today’s complex world, the CEO and top team don’t have the time, energy, intellectual diversity or bandwidth to make all the decisions.
  1. Shift from a leader at the top culture to a leader everywhere culture.
  1. You create a context for people to show up as leaders by preaching four values: 1) Integrity, 2) Authenticity, 3) Responsibility, 4) Making a difference.
  1. Chunk the organization into smaller pieces to give more people the opportunity to lead. P&L groups, product groups, project groups.
  1. The smartest people in the world who possess unique abilities work for someone else. How can you attract them to work for you?
  1. When interviewing people, don’t just look at jobs and experiences. Ask about their ability to make money.
  1. Take vacations and days off! CEOs take a romantic view of their job vs. an instrumental one. This can lead to constantly feeling stressed, pressured, and exhausted.

If you have a question and want to talk, feel free to call me at Masterful Coaching 617 953 5252. Download a copy of these 30 LAWS here.