The jobs of the CEO can be overwhelming without an essential set of capabilities for dealing with the volume and complexity of the work. Here are four capabilities that I believe effective CEOs apply to make their lives livable and their work effective.

Managing Energy

This capability requires self-awareness and an eye for others’ talents. What turns you on? What saps your strength? If you don’t know how to cultivate your energy, you will have a hard time motivating/engaging others. Each of your three jobs, especially running the business, requires that you generate more energy than you expend from your interactions. To this end, you must be inspired by the work, the mission, the people, the challenge, and whatever it is that lights your flame. It also means eliminating the tasks that sap your strength. You know what these are (or we can quickly find out) and you most likely know someone for whom your kryptonite is their rocket fuel. Managing energy includes getting smart about collaboration.

Managing Relationships

Physicists tell us that all there is in the Universe is relationships. Matter is energy in various states of relationship. Particles are packets of energy which coalesce when they interact, as when we measure them. Otherwise they are smeared out over space-time as waves of probability.The presence of a particle is determined by its relationship to an observer. What does quantum physics have to do with being a CEO? Your job is a network of relationships. These include your executive team, their direct reports, their staff, and all of their combined relationships and their potential to replace you someday. Your relationships include your Board, the members, their relationships with each other and to the governance model. The network includes investors, regulators, customers, channel partners, and so forth. The sheer number could overwhelm you. Fortunately, you don’t have to manage them all individually, provided that you understand this about relationship management:

  • all people have purposes, concerns and circumstances
  • if they perceive you as being unaware or uncaring about their purposes, concerns and circumstances they will resist you
  • if on the other hand, they perceive you as aware of and caring for these factors, they will collaborate with you to create value
  • People’s perception of your awareness and caring is your personal brand. It has leverage and can show up even when you are not physically present

Managing Conversations

All work takes place in conversation. There is a natural order to conversations that produce value. That order is align, act, adjust. Within each of these conversations, there are more specific discussions that follow the same path. We can go into these details at another time, but for now let’s just say that most conversations are not des