About Paul Sarvadi
Paul Sarvadi is the Chairman & CEO of Insperity, a $4B public company he founded in 1986. He has 34 years of experience learning to think like a CEO who is always ready to take his company to the next level and create consistent, predictable growth and profitability. Paul has led through startup, growth, expansion and going public, mastering the CEO role in every phase of his company’s journey.
What are the 5 CEO Breakthroughs?
Paul is arguably one of the most successful founders and CEOs in American, and his leadership is characterized by 5 CEO Breakthroughs he shared at the 21st Annual CEO Forum on October 1st. Through a series of five posts, we will dive into each Breakthrough to help you unlock greater growth for you and your company. And remember, every Breakthrough comes down to how you think.
CEO BREAKTHROUGH: ALIGNMENT AS THE KEY TO ACHIEVEMENT
Have you ever thought of your job as the CEO as behavioral science? Your company is made up of people, and people are complicated – the right answer one day may not be the right answer the next day. People evolve and change every day as they learn, gain new perspectives and experience, and develop knowledge and skills. You manage budgets, resources, financial statements, and processes, but you lead people.
Alignment is the key to optimizing people, so that they can perform at their best, and as the CEO, you must hone your ability to look around your company and spot misalignment quickly. It’s your #1 job.
3 Steps to Optimizing Performance in Your Company
- Release Individual Discretionary Effort in Your People
The first step to optimizing performance is to create an environment where individuals can apply themselves to their work with both feet on the gas. Look for things that could be in the way, like fear of failure, fear of making the wrong decision, their role doesn’t fit their genius, and more… It’s critical that you identify the things that cause your people to tap on the breaks – and eliminate them.
Paul Sarvadi likes to ask new people, “Have you built your case for why you are in the right role right now?” When they add up all their experience and skills, ‘How do those things add up to what you’re doing right now?’ Part of a leader or manager’s role is to help people make that case. As a CEO, you don’t have to worry about what your people are doing, when you’ve hired them for their alignment with the things that matter to you, and they feel like this is where they belong. You know you’ve got this element right when people are giving their all because they want to.
- Create an Environment of Collaboration
Once your people are released into their roles, it’s important to create an environment where people who are giving their all can do that in a group. That same effort released in a team becomes a force multiplier. To achieve this in your company, the entire team needs to feel free to succeed with both feet on the gas. So again, your job is to eliminate things that restrict team collaboration and cause them to tap the breaks. Look for things that could be in the way like finger pointing, confusion about roles, and more… It’s critical that you identify the things that get in the way of collaboration and cause your teams tap on the breaks – and eliminate them.
You know you’ve got this element right when your people are able to collaborate together as a team and execute quickly.
- Create Alignment
When you get the first two things right, it’s all about whether you are aiming them at the right things. Alignment comes down to absolute clarity and an ability to clearly and consistently communicate three things:
- Where are you going as a company?
- How are you going about getting there?
Sometimes when we describe our vision, we don’t realize that some people are seeing a different picture than we are. All three must be clear enough that we’re all looking at the same picture and it becomes the basis for decision-making.
You’ll know you’ve got this element right when your people are quickly making decisions that make sense, because they know where, how, and why you are going in the direction you’re going as a company.
Questions to Ask Yourself
When you look around your company, can you see the things that cause individuals to tap on the breaks? These may be signs that their role doesn’t fit their unique genius or it isn’t clear to them how they can contribute.
- Individuals are muscling through, struggling to get results, performing inconsistently, or seeming uninspired or worn out
- Individuals hesitate or hold back in making decisions
When you look around your company, can you see the things that cause teams to tap on the breaks? These may be signs the environment is political, or roles aren’t clear.
- People are pointing fingers and covering and protecting themselves
- People hesitate to make decisions and speak their minds
- People are afraid of failure or don’t feel safe making mistakes and learning from them
When you look around your company, can you quickly spot signs of misalignment? These may be signs that your people don’t understand where you’re trying to go, how you’re going about getting there, and why.
- Decisions don’t make sense
- Departments have different perspectives of what it looks like to succeed
- Your performance is inconsistent and unpredictable
If you see signs of misalignment, commit yourself to your #1 job as a CEO. Align your people around:
- WHERE you are going
- HOW you are going about getting there, and
Once you get to that point, it’s so fun to see the result – people excel and your company grows.