Author: Jessica Holsapple
As a former “Second in Command/Change Agent” inside organizations working directly with, and for, CEOs, I know what it’s like to feel as though you’re on a whole different planet, or at least speaking a different language. These relationships are typically Yin and Yang, and when operating in harmony, can bring beautiful balance. But when forces are opposed, this can create chaos and destruction.
Now, as a Next Level Growth Business Guide, I often see this dynamic play out as an outsider witnessing the Integrator/Operations Leader/Second in Command (insert #2 title here) feeling frustrated that the Visionary/CEO doesn’t trust them to do their job for one reason or another.
From my experience if you’re the Second in Command, here are 3 ways to build trust with your CEO:
- Start by asking the right questions and listening to their story. Understand their WHY.
- Make them feel heard before moving on to implementing a solution- sometimes they are not looking for the execution of an idea, but rather a sounding board. When in doubt, ask.
- Choose empathy. Before approaching a topic, try figuratively sitting in their seat. Attempt to understand their perspective, needs, and fears. Assume the best intent.
Zoom out and try to see things from their vantage point. Remember…
- Trust is scary. The stakes are high.
- Handing over a piece of your business and putting someone else in charge can be nerve-wracking.
- They may not be able to see how the pieces come together in the same way that you can.
- They need to feel included. Consult and inform them on the decisions that are important to them using a Decision Matrix (available below). Ultimately, it’s their name, reputation, and resources on the line.
If you’re working with an entrepreneurial founder or CEO, and you’re saying to them, “just trust me,” stop. They want to be able to trust you. That’s why they chose you to work as their right hand, they just might not know how. It’s your job to figure that out. You’re the one who puts ideas to action, you may also need to be the one to extract their ideas and implement the right ones effectively. Be their guide, and make it a safe place for them to live 25,000 feet above the business.
“No matter how invincible a CEO might feel, they should never underestimate the value of having a partner. You need someone you can trust, be vulnerable with, and open up to. The yin to your yang. You need someone who will tell you the truth, including when they think you are wrong, so you can keep moving forward in a positive direction.” – The Second in Command, Unleash the Power of Your COO by CAMERON HEROLD
If you’re a Senior Operations Leader in the Second in Command role, remember, you were hired for a reason. The relationship is about trust, and it may require you to manage up so that you have what you need to be successful in your role and execute with the organization’s best intentions in mind. I also recommend picking up a copy of The Second In Command, by Cameron Herold. Read it to learn more about the relationship dynamic between you and your CEO and how to build trust in the relationship.,
Free Next Level Growth Decision Matrix Worksheet
Get aligned with the decisions with important decisions using the Decision Matrix.
- Read: Second In Command by Cameron Herold
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