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Everyone is a CEO at Work

As seen in APeeling if September 2020 - Anthony Gruppo



As the CEO for the Marsh & McLennan Agency Northeast, and now Marsh Commercial, UK, people often asked me to define the role of a CEO. They want me to talk in terms of a Chief Executive Officer. But I’d rather not because honestly, I don’t know how to define it or what it really means.


I believe that everyone is a CEO


I look at it this way, if you can coach yourself and others, can be entrepreneurial in your thinking, and act like an owner, you are a CEO, no matter your job or your title.


Nobody wakes up in the morning and thinks, “Let me look at the corporate organizational chart, I only have 4000 spaces to climb to become the CEO.” Not a very motivating thought, is it? Wouldn’t it be more motivating to see yourself as the head of your own company, right now, today?


I ask my colleagues to think of themselves as a CEO, because it is how I see them, and it is how I’d like you to see yourself. Imagine how different, how productive, how animated, how energetic you could be if your title, right now, was a CEO.


Imagine if we thought and acted like the CEO of our position in our family, our life, our business and our community? Imagine all of us thinking and acting like owners of everything we do and how great we all could be together instead of working in silos or limited by our cubicles and titles.


Greatness is...


Think about how many times you have heard the word ‘Great.’ Great athlete. Great businessperson. Great celebrity. What does that mean? How do you define greatness?

Are we great when we hit every benchmark, every goal, every objective? Does the eight-year-old with straight A’s come home and say, “I’m Great,” and his parents say, “Yep, you are Great, you have made it, and now you are done?” Or is the CEO Great once they’ve hit their forecast for that quarter? Or they’ve hit their annual goals? Are they Great then?

I don’t think hitting benchmarks is Greatness.


Perhaps the pinnacle of Greatness is when people duplicate what we did and continue what we started. Maybe then we are Great. I think that’s a better definition.


When my father, who was a role model passed away from ALS, he asked me to duplicate what he started so it could continue for” “the family. He’d built a supportive family dynamic and I was honored to continue his legacy as a leader who helped others.


Are you improving the quality of life for your family and loved ones? Are you improving the quality of life for the people whom you work with and serve? Are people happy to come into an environment where you lead, or do they feel it’s something they have to do to earn compensation?


Success will never be achieved until people seek to duplicate what you started.


Are You in your Own Way?

Long before becoming the CEO of the Marsh & McLennan Agency in the Northeast, I sometimes struggled with focus, discipline, and all the issues many of us encounter. But I knew I had to do more than change my job title to obtain the life I wanted for myself.

I had to ask myself some hard questions and find the courage to answer them honestly because lying was not going to help me move in the right direction. I developed a Personal Strategic Plan to help me discover the answers.


When you match your goals to what you’re trying to do in your life, your profession, and your job, happiness will ensue.


Are your Goals Equal to your Potential?


Often times, we struggle with welding our passion to our potential to increase our performance. As you define your short and long-term goals, think about welding them to your potential.


In the past, I used overview goals to formulate my mission, to be a welcome leader in any arena I chose to stand in. As time went on, I realized in my life, both personally and professionally, the goals had to be more specific.


For a dream to become a goal you need to write it down, give yourself a deadline, and outline a metric you will use to measure your success.


Dreams are Goals with Deadlines


The goal process should never be taken lightly; it is not one of those measures that becomes commonplace. Cheating on your goal is similar to robbing your heritage and desecrating the foundation of the overachiever who came before you. Leaders are not like everyone else who plays the game. Leaders are the creators and visionaries of the goals of others. If we take our goals lightly, we short arm the future for those whom we lead.


Every moment we fail to support each other and second-guess our achievement, we prevent the survival and success of the system. No matter where we go, goals follow us and bang loudly on our souls. In the end, it was never the goals that drove us; it was always the need, desire, and courage to conquer them. To take them lightly is to assume we were never here at all.


Goals create the future of an organization and the well-being of a family. We cannot count on someone else to deliver our future and dream our dreams for us. We can set examples for our families and all those who follow in our steps. We have no right to question the goals of our children if we constantly fall short of our own goals.


We might only have six minutes to get a goal accomplished, as there may be no long-term opportunity. Short-term is nothing more than putting some kind of a quantifier on the goal to complete it in a realistically fast period of time. Long-term is a vision of the future built on a foundation of successful short-term goals.


Together, we can strive to reach heights which seemed too high for us. Discussing our goals with others is one of the most successful ways of dealing with achievement and staying focused. Tell people what you are trying to accomplish because it puts a subtle pressure on us to deliver upon our goal. It also helps people point us in the right direction. It is critical we follow through using direct action to take steps to continue forward because we do not want to process items repeatedly like a hamster on a wheel.


Planning is the glue to our goal process. Our goals are brought to conclusion through thoughtful processes. Remember, although we have to be successful at what we create, we also want to challenge ourselves to be better than our current selves. It is important we set short and long-term goals which challenge us. I have found that what stops most people from achieving success is their inability to change and try new endeavors. Goals force us to stretch and to achieve in areas where we have not yet been successful, may be uncomfortable, or we have not attempted to penetrate in the past. We have to put in the effort to plan, to look at short-term and long-term goals, measure and have the ability to change or pivot.


A Team is a Force of One


So much has been written about goal setting and how critical it is for organizations and individuals to set goals, yet rarely are we clear on how to implement or communicate the goal process.


As I discussed before, visualization is critical in goal planning. The process is easier than you think. With the help of the exercises in this book, identify and build on your strengths, both personally and professionally. You will then able to project how things will look in the future based on those same strengths. It is not necessary to abandon your current delivery system, but merely expand upon it. Based on your current planning and goal-setting methods, you can project what the environment will look like in the future.


If people do not believe in the dream and vision of the company, they will not follow the goal-setting process in the future. To combat apathy within the company, leadership must give people the chance to debate and discuss the vision. This process will help them to support the company’s entrepreneurial spirit because they were involved in the goal planning process and can attach themselves to leadership’s vision and dream. As they watch leadership planning well into the future, they may feel compelled to plan for their own futures by creating individual goals.


I have found few individuals can really plan for the future and build their own perpetuation plans. Many speak of it, but few can truly deliver a solid functional plan. Part of the planning process and part of the goal-setting environment is to decide early on whom you will collaborate with to accomplish your tasks. At our organization, we have colleagues who are driven and dedicated. Even though they may lack the overall picture of the entire company, they know the goals and leader’s vision, so can focus on their particular area of expertise.


Without them, the delivery system would fail, but with them change and creativity is common and cherished. Many people are surprised when they fail at accomplishing goals or fail to achieve their level of goal-setting processes because there are some external or internal reasons which caused the process to break down. They may have relied solely on their ability and instinct which may be sufficient in a short-term goal process, but inappropriate for the long-term. Certainly, as we get older, we realize the need to have creative talent around us in order to support our long-range planning process. If not, it’s no different than being on a construction site and having the most high-powered equipment tunnel trenches that then collapse. The tunneling process goes very quickly, but when the machinery stops and you turn around, you notice everything disintegrated because no one had been laying pipe and backfilling the ditch. Conclusion: we realize planning and goal setting go hand in hand.

Supporting Those who Support You


Where can you find the people to fill your team? By getting to know the people with whom you work. If as a leader you hold yourself above everyone else and are too far removed from them, you will miss finding emerging leaders.


Take Kim, who worked closely with me on the Roots of Leadership Podcast. When I met her she was the receptionist at Marsh & McLennan Northeast. If I’d ignored her as insignificant to my responsibilities, I never would have discovered her talent and passion for writing. She now works in the creative relations department and does a remarkable job with the podcast.


Or Caryn Ojeda, when I met Caryn, she was doing project work for us on seminar systems and now she is the producer of the Roots of Leadership Podcast and helping with branding for individuals and companies. She is fantastic at what she does.


Each of these women supported me and in turn, I support them in their careers. I would not have known what they were capable of, what they wanted to do, and what was possible, if I had walked past them every day with my nose in the air because my ego says, “I’m the all-important CEO.” No. My job as CEO is to bring the right resources into the organization to help it grow, to coach the people I am responsible for, and motivate everyone to be the best they can be every day. When I am doing my job correctly, I find the people whom I need on teams throughout the company to support the long-term goals.


Success does not come from one individual doing everything or dictating what is to be done. It comes when everyone passionately makes the effort to move together as one toward set goals. As a result of my consistently supporting my teams, nurturing, and working with them, there has always more than one person who can step into my position when I vacate it. I believe that when you build a strong, passionate team, it should work this way. Promotion from within could not have happened if I had walled myself off in an ivory tower and had not supported and collaborated with the people who make up my teams.


Is Your Next Step, the Right Step?


Who are the people you surround yourself with? Who are the people who support you, who can help you plan your next step and tie it back to your Personal Strategic Plan? Do you have a Personal Board of Directors? Did you do the work and create the list of those whom you want to sit on your board? Were there names you forgot to add? Go back to your list, firm it up, and ask them to help you write your Personal Strategic Plan and hold you accountable to your goals.


A Living Document


I wrote my first book, Creating Reality, almost 20 years ago and when I reread it now, much of the perspective is not the same, because the passion, the goals, the dreams, and the aspirations have been changed. The Personal Strategic Plan which I’m asking you to build is a living document that will continue to evolve as you do. As you become more courageous and confident, as you begin to surround yourself with people who think the same way, your life will change.


You have what it takes to do this.


You do not have to be in the front to lead. You can be in any position to lead. You can lead from the rear. I’ve met people of all ages who have the power, the energy, the mindset, the tenacity, and the focus to achieve.


In my life, every time I tried something new, I’ve encountered people who believed it couldn’t be done. People close to me said I couldn’t go from working construction to an office. Then when I was working in the insurance business and I started to write books, people said I couldn’t do that. Every time I took on a new venture that looked to be outside of where others believed I should be, I met detractors, as you will, but they don’t matter. What matters is how you see yourself, the dreams you have, and the people you surround yourself with. Who will support you?


What Moments will You Make?


Think about your day, your week, your month, your year? What moments are you seeking to create? Make as many moments and opportunities for yourself, those you love, and those your serve.


What Seems Impossible to Achieve?


As you put your strategic plan into action, as you connect it to a goal and objective, an action and a strategy, as you assign times and structure, and as you select people who will help you, what you believed is impossible, will become reality.


Anthony C Gruppo is the CEO of Marsh Commercial in the UK, a speaker, author, and a mentor. This has been an excerpt of his book the Pushers of the Possible.

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