At this year’s Web Summit, WP Engine CEO Heather Brunner participated in three VIP panel discussions. In the third and final discussion, Heather was part of a small panel in the Startup University theatre discussing what it takes to be an effective CEO.
In this post, I’ll summarise five top pieces of entrepreneurial advice Heather shared with the packed audience of startup entrepreneurs and business leaders.
To be a great CEO you need to have the right blend of qualities.
While academic credentials are important, so is humility and compassion. The best leaders are able to admit what they don’t know, understand their weaknesses and then find creative solutions to fill that knowledge or ability gap.
The best practical example of this is forming your management team. Surround yourself with great people who bring different qualities to the boardroom table. As the old adage goes, “if you’re the cleverest person in the room, you’re in the wrong room.”
Understand your business from all angles and across all departments.
Coming from an operations background gave me a grounding and appreciation for all facets of the organisation. Being a versatile executive has given me an end-to-end perspective of the business. It also helps me to build the best possible team because I know what good looks like and I can hire accordingly.
How viable is the 130-hour week?
It’s sustainable and every startup entrepreneur or CEO of a fast growth company will experience a period of their life in this work mode. But long term it’s not a path I’d recommend. You’ll lose effectiveness, reduce creativity and ultimately burn out. Leading a successful organisation and inspiring a motivated workforce is a long game.
You need to strike a balance, always stretching yourself and exceeding work goals but not losing sight of work-life balance and personal goals.
Leverage technology to make improve efficiency.
Try out productivity and planning apps. Use video for effective meetings. Embrace time-saving tools.
Make time for creativity.
Every day try stepping away from your inbox and your operational tasks and – with a blank piece of paper – think about what you could differently or better to solve a problem or improve a customer experience.
What insights did you take away from Web Summit? Let us know by leaving a comment below, and be sure to check out this recap: Web Summit 2016: Apps, Open Source, and Disruptive Tech.